Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Could Have Written That: Part 2

5. "Crocodile Rock" "Bennie & The Jets"
Now I'm quite sure Elton John is a gifted songwriter, and I am willing to give credit to great talents, even if their material doesn't appeal to me. Prince, Slayer, and Muse all fit into the category of critically acclaimed and very talented artists that make me want to slam my head into a wall.  I have liked much of Reginald Dwight's material over they years, but the whining, grating choruses of these two songs make me bray them mockingly in a screeching tone at the unfair blood-soaked skies of the heavens above in exasperation and rage whenever I hear them. Not so much out of annoyance, but out of anger at the fact that these two tornado warnings of songs got not only recorded, but became hits.

4. "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
 Really?  This was popular?  And it became part of the lexicon. I don't even want to know why....

3. "The Harlem Shake"
This current craze is beyond annoying. It's stupefying.  It's not just the song, it's the abberant spasms it apparently causes it fans to break into. Including world-renowned basketball star Lebron James seen below. My youngest son and I were looking at this on a television at a local Pizza joint, both of us perplexed...."Is that guy dressed as Mario, Rob?", he asked quizzically...

"Yes, C.". I responded.  "Yes, he is...."

because I had nothing else to say....

Many songs, including the affore-mentioned "Gangnam Style" and "Cupid Shuffle", as irritating and unacceptable as they are, had some sort of an attempt at a dance....this just looks like a standing, lucid Donald Sutherland at the end of 1978's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", it just gives me the willies.  Or the Jeebs. Take your pick.

here it is.

 May God have mercy on our souls.

The last two are coming soon. I'm too exasperated by this at the moment, to finish.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The 70's: Sick Was Better Than "The Cure"

Nowadays, some kids embrace being ill. A chance to lie in bed, sleep late, hang out on the couch in front of Disney XD, or XL or XFL or whatever.... so many options with all the electronic handheld gizmos available. I'm not saying kids didn't pull that crap in my day.

 Most of us are familiar with Ferris Bueller's "cold and clammy hands", Elliot from E.T.'s "thermometer in the lightbulb" trick, or you could just plain make it sound like you were congested, which worked best if you had a hyper-sensitive, or overly fearful mom. You had to be careful what you wished for, however. My own kids complain about the taste of OTC meds and cough syrups....and my wife and I try to tell them:

"You have no idea."

 Does anyone remember the toxic sludges and gritty concoctions and snake oils of our youth?:

 Now I do remember this stuff having a D tacked onto the end of it's if that gave it a military grade toughness that promised to kick your cold's ass, or maybe it was just "next level" Formula 44, for those heightened circumstances maybe you had Ebola or something...

or just felt like whining like the insipid, crying whelp in this video, oddly an adult...

 Vicks Formula 44D....for the oncoming apocalyptic supercold...Stay Ready. Contact the CDC.

Really? A gum, Mom? For my sore throat!!  Wow! It's Orange, too?  Great Lucifer's knee-pads!

Oh, God, it was awful.... and it did abso-freakin' lutely nothing for your throat...
Not one iota...
I swear that even those false-prophet, nothing but candy, Smith Brothers cough drops did more for that scratchy windpipe, if only by making you smile because they tasted so damn good. Aspergum were disgusting, not even remotely tasty enough to give you a placebo effect...Can't believe this trash made it past the testing phase....

I don't know what flavor these children's aspirin were, some quasi-orange, maybe?

....oh, right, that's it,..."BAD", they were "BAD flavored".

... and as if the taste wasn't enough, they kicked up a funky dust in your mouth that blew down your throat and gave you a strange powdered sugar cough (just in case your other symptoms were lonely, and you hadn't developed a cough yet, St. Joe's or Bayer children was there for you.), and once again, relieved no symptoms. I don't think it even lowered a fever....

Wow. The varied flavors were all bad in Sucrets. Horrible.
So you have to sell it somehow. You can almost hear some mad scientist marketing exec throwing the ideas out there: "If we put them in a tin, kids will think they're cool and can carry them around. Mom's will want them to put buttons and pins and shit in. Plus, if we individually wrap this crap, it gives it an air of class. Like Twinkies or Hot Pockets."

Too bad nobody thought to put something of medicinal value in there.

So, my point is OTC meds have advanced exponentially since I was a kid. There's Theraflu, NyQuil, Mucinex....and while not outright cures, the products do greatly relieve the symptoms. And the taste of today's items, while not gourmet finger sandwiches, is infinitely better than the stuff back in the day of "Super Friends", Underoos, and Colorforms.

 I would have rather gone to school than take that crap.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Go Back To Vinyl. Jack Says So.

Below is a video from the man himself, Jack White III. Pay attention!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cinenigmas: Peter Hyams

Peter Hyams has been around a long time.  I've been familiar with his name forever.....

Let me preface this by telling you that my thought process has, from youth, been that of a cinephile...names, particularly directors and producers as well as actors are never truly eradicated from my mind.  The same can be said with the monikers of baseball and football players absorbed from hours of game-watching and bubble gum card stacking, as well as music credits inhaled from much platter listening and album liner note reading...

So since childhood, the name of Peter Hyams has been rattling around in my skull due to the pre-cable pay channel (Spectrum was the outfit) viewing of a Sean Connery flick I barely remember called "Outland".  Forgive my memory, I was 9, but the name stuck, if the film didn't. So "Hyams"  always sparked something of an interest from a very young age.

And like Forrest Gump, AC/DC, and boy bands, he never goes away.

He is a director of some talent. He shoots films beautifully, (he's his own director of photography, not many save for Robert Rodriguez can say that) gets solid performances out of actors, tells a story well, and builds great action and suspense scenes....and damn, if he hasn't put together some snappy fight sequences. "TimeCop" and the Hong Kong theatrics of "The Musketeer" are prove positive of that.  (Now, "Sudden Death" has a battle royale in a kitchen between Jean Claude Van Damme and a giant Pittsburgh Penguin with some dead serious John Debney music behind it, that I hope was going for chuckles, because I don't want to associate Peter Hyams with unintentional laughter.)

Now, the reason for all this Peter Hyams related Hem & Haw is that I looked him back up recently after my wife and I were watching a second hand copy of his film "The Relic", which I had no clue he directed.  Damn my eyes.  My lovely inomorata and I enjoyed the hell out of "The Relic", that underrated little sci-fi/horror opus.  Surely, underrated is a word that can be tacked onto Mr. Hyams himself. His films are always better than critics give them credit for. They seem to fit neatly into the category of movies that are often only appreciated a few years after the fact. Now, unfortunate lackluster box office numbers may have something to do with the lack of familiarity of many of his movies, but he has had his share of successes. You don't direct for 30 plus  years in Hollywood if you pile one failure on top of the other.

He's had hits.  "Telefon", "Capricorn One", "2010", "Running Scared", "The Presidio", and "Narrow Margin", working with legends like Bronson, Connery (twice), Billy Crystal, Gene Hackman, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and of course, um, er....James Brolin and Jean Claude Van Damme.

His films look great. They really do, and he surprises, because he can't be genre pinned. He seems as comfortable with sci-fi (TimeCop, 2010, Outland) as he is with action (End of Days, Telefon, The Musketeer, Sudden Death), and even drama (Hanover Street, Narrow Margin, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt). That sets him apart into a class with folks like Rob Reiner, whom I adore,  and John Landis, whom I still can't figure out. You thought I was gonna say Spielberg, didn't you?  Let's not get nuts here.

 As he's approaching his 70th birthday, he's still busy spinning about. Although his second partnering with Michael Douglas, "Reasonable Doubt" failed, he soldiers on. He moonlights as cinematographer on his son John's films, and he has his third pairing with Van Damme coming soon, "Enemies Closer" with Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones. Before you ballyhoo that, take a look at Van Damme's recent's not totally embarrassing fare the likes of Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, or (snicker, giggle) Steven Seagal. Unlike those 3, there's respectable material there.

Don't think Peter Hyams done just yet. No, he's never had that mega-box office smash, but his films aren't outright failures either, are memorable, and seem to age well for the most part.  Yes, underrated, as well as eclectic, is probably a good word to use for the New York born man of many tastes, as he's a gifted musician, a painter with works on display, and a former documentarian that has spent time as a CBS news anchor.

With a resume like that, I think the last thing to do is count Peter Hyams out. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Could Have Written That; Part One

Periodically, you'll hear that song on the radio, or being sang by one of your kids, that makes you cock your head, prick up your ears, and say: "Christ, man, what is that?!" (in my case, with an Irish accent, and a "feckin'' in there somewhere...) because it's a quandary beyond any other, how in God's name that song could get recorded, let alone be popular.

But it's a quasi-generational thing really, transcending space and time, down through the ages, into the quill-pen encrusted, foppish dandy-coated times, where I'm sure even Bill Shakespeare wandered down a filthy street, Shepherd's Pie in hand saying "Christ, man, what is that?!" (except in a hugely British brogue) to some down-on-his-luck minstrel trying his best to earn a buck through his talent or lack of it. (usually ignored through some "first two episodes of the season" "American Idol"-strength denial.)

So, with that in mind, here's a list of my Top 10 "How the Hell did that Happen?" songs.

10. The Offspring- "Get a Job". This song is an earsore if there ever was one. Annoying lyrics, Dexter's annoying whining voice, and a complete departure from their signature sound. Not that that's a bad thing, but where did this curveball come from?  Lyrically, I don't know who Dex & the Boys are trying to insult here, his friend with the girlfriend, or the girlfriend, or both. Either way, it's horrendous. Unacceptable.

9.  Musical Youth- "Pass the Dutchie". This one speaks for itself. You have a horrible hybrid of two mainstay reggae tunes, a blathering 12 year old vocalist whose lyrics are nearly unintelligible, and the original meaning now lifted. In a striking example of poetic justice, this abomination, which changed the drug reference of the original from pot to food, resulted in just giving the Weed Nation another nickname for their muse. Terrific. It's bad enough they have nothing else to talk about, they now have more ways to do it.

8.  The Bee Gees- "You Should Be Dancing".  Disco, just by the size of it's enormity, deserves to be chronicled as a page in music's history books, quality of the genre notwithstanding. However catchy some disco songs, even the ones done by the Gibb Machine, may be, some are unforgiveable.  "You Should be Dancing" is one of those songs. I could write another entire blog post about "Misheard Lyrics", but this one takes the cake. Barry's falsetto on this one so obscures the lyrics to "Whatcha doin' on your back?", that as a 6 year old, I thought he was saying "Stick it in your butt".  Case closed.

7.  PSY- "Gangnam Style".  Gangnam is an area south of the Han River in Seoul, Korea. Just over 500,000 citizens strong.  Apparently they have a community built on nerds boogieing down as well. Not to say it hasn't rung a bell with people, it's the first video to be viewed over a billion times on YouTube. "Gangnam Style" has become a calling card for it's era.  Move over Vanilla Ice, A-Ha, and David comes a little dude with glasses, crackin' Gangnam Style!!!

6.  Fine Young Cannibals "She Drives Me Crazy".  Now, earlier I have already mentioned my hatred of falsetto, and vocalist Roland Gift's usage of it is so unnecessary since tis song is already annoying. Plus, after seeing the video, I was stunned by Mr. Gift's striking similarity to actor Duane Jones. Hence, all I could visualize in my head was Ben in "Night of the Living Dead" getting gunned down by zombie hunters not realizing he was alive at the end of the movie. So the song annoys, then it depresses. A true double whammy.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Absolution & Retribution from the wrong place

Cain carried in his cracked and
weather beaten hand
an Iris as beautiful as the falling sun
and the beach's twinkling sand

He gently showed the flower to some nearby little girls
with it's delicate brittle stems, it's leaves, and it's twirls

he then squeezed his hand tight
and blood flowed through his fingers and dripped

dripped down into the grass.....

Cain said to the little girls
this is what God does to all beauty

He bleeds it dry,
turning it into whores
and giving it manual duty

Cain then dropped the Iris and walked away
as the little girls laughed in their curious and naive way
they attempted to fix the mangled Iris
for the remainder of their misunderstood day

Cain walked chuckling
through a great and heavy door
Where a flick of the Morningstar's wing
slit his throat from neck to floor

From his knees
Cain gurgled and breathed his last
as Lucifer knelt down low

Putting his fingertips to his lips
he breathed....

"It's not yet for them to know."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rhymes with Mercy Seat.

My earliest memories are of a man
who lifted me up and taught me how to stand
Left work at lunch covered in grime
just to hold his son one more time
then just minutes, just moments away
he was swept away on a summer day
I stood there watching the afternoon sky

and no one paid the price

He's no longer there at his bedroom door
thirty years of spoken words left ignored
Kept all the darkest secrets to myself
like priceless rubies way up high on a shelf
violent wants, greasy hopeless needs
buried knee deep in the mud of the reeds
the theft of him, the first unpunished crime

and no one paid the price

three decades spanned, I'd become obsessed
with the  thumbs in my temples that had been pressed
headaches grown at the thought of pain
criminal bloodstains unwashed by the rain
tears that were shed alone in the dark
caused by evil faces smiling a lark
and no one paid the price

too many open air smiles being borne
by those with bones behind closet doors
nothing to be done, no justice served
this albatross is just another bird
retribution craved, and payback wanted
as unjust freedom with grins is flaunted

and I paid the price

Will I ever stop being bothered
by crimes unrelated to the death of my father
wanted debts for his withering away
to be paid by the soulless who do not pray
people claiming God is by their side
as they wash the blood off of their hide

and I pay the price

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I'm tired of the contemporary being used to dictate opinion. Tired of words and actions being bent to back up the opposite of what they meant. MLK, I'm sorry if your words and actions were misrepresented today. In honor of MLK, I wrote this:

I am history
Use me as you will
take my figures and pieces
and run them through a still
drink up the aftermath
and spit it in your defense
of all your beliefs and stances
no matter the side of the fence.

I am history
many walked my paths
take their words and their acts
and twist them into a dance
that supports your righteous angle
no matter what it may be
misquote them way out of context
from sea to shining sea

Sometimes I repeat myself
and sometimes I am nondescript
sometimes I just unleash
and my pages aren’t unripped
so learn from me carefully
for I am oft rewritten
and don’t fall in love with my rules
or with hellfire you’ve been smitten