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Archive for October, 2013

Boo!

Posted by purplemary54 on October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!!!!

I hope there’s lots of candy and fun for everyone today!  All treats, zero tricks. 🙂

But just in case y’all need something to get the party started, this one always works.

Posted in Music, Soundtracks | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Rock and Roll”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 30, 2013

I’m not sure what else to post today, and I’ve still got Lou Reed on the brain, so here’s a little “Rock and Roll.”

There’s something about this music.  Not just this particular song; I mean Rock & Roll itself.  It has elements of everything, but isn’t like anything else in the world.  I don’t know what I’d do without this music.  I mean, I like Jazz and Blues and all the rest.  But nothing has ever touched me the same way.  I’ve really never been able to fully articulate it.  It feels like home.  Like peace.  I don’t know what the first “rock” song I heard was.  I don’t know when I started responding to an electric guitar the same way and addict must respond to getting his fix, but I do know that I’m hooked the same way.  My life was saved by Rock & Roll.

I’m pretty sure Lou Reed felt the same way.  Music mattered to him.  He loved it.  But he wasn’t afraid to challenge the thing he loved.  His vision of the world never quite meshed with the way it was supposed to be portrayed in music.  He told the truth as he knew it, wrote about the people he knew and the things he did.  If you didn’t like it, tough.  If you didn’t believe it, your were wrong.  Or worse, you were a liar and a hypocrite.  If you didn’t want to hear what Reed was saying, then you could just get out, because he wasn’t going to shut up.  Whatever.  He had no patience for you anyway.

That’s an attitude I can respect.  That’s Rock & Roll.

Posted in Music, Rock | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Here Kitty, Kitty . . .

Posted by purplemary54 on October 29, 2013

Know what today is (or was, depending on your time zone; it’s about 4:30 PM here)?  Well, if you have a cat, then you’re probably already sorry if you don’t (see here for more information).  It’s National Cat Day!

I don’t think I’ve made my love of cats a secret, but just in case anyone missed it, I love cats.  I’ve had at least one in my life pretty constantly since I was eight.  That’s when we moved into the house I live in now, and my parents got me the kitten they promised me.  (For the record, I honestly don’t remember asking for a kitty, but I’m sure that I probably begged and badgered until they gave in.)  She was a tabby named Sabrina; she is still probably the best, most psychologically sound cat I ever owned.  I stepped on a piece of glass one time, and while I was lying on the floor screaming bloody murder while my father attempted to pull the shard out of the middle of my foot, she came over and grabbed the sleeve of my shirt and tugged.  I flailed her away, but to this day, I’m pretty sure she was trying to rescue me.  When I realized what happened (read: my mother explained it), I knew I was loved by that wonderful little creature.

Cats aren’t the aloof, arrogant beasts many people assume they are.  Okay, they are pretty arrogant, but I’ve never had a cat that didn’t want fairly constant attention from every human within a fifty mile radius.  They’re soft and curl up in your lap (or along your torso if you lay on your side, like one of my girls was just doing a little while ago).  They butt their heads against you when they love you.  (With the top of their heads, mind you; rubbing the sides of their faces is scent-marking to claim ownership.)  They can seem pretty entitled, and they’re generally not too shy about demanding whatever it is they crave at the moment–be it your attention or another can of cat food.  But I can forgive a lot when the minute I touch one and they start purring.  How can anyone not love something that purrs?

I’ve had many beautiful, loving cats in my life.  And I know I haven’t always been the best pet mommy in the world.  So I am continuously grateful for all that they have given me.  If you have a kitty, go give it a hug.  You’ll get thanked with a purr or a head butt.

If you don’t get scratched for disturbing a perfectly good nap, that is.

Posted in Music, Rock | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sorry, Chris Brown. I’m judging you.

Posted by purplemary54 on October 28, 2013

I don’t like Chris Brown.  He’s got a pretty good voice, and his music doesn’t entirely suck; as an artist, he’s middle of the road.  He is, however, a complete failure as a human being.

Yesterday, Lou Reed’s death was being relegated to the second half of the local news; that’s the portion they usually reserve for news of product recalls and heartwarming stories about puppies.  But Chris Brown’s most recent arrest made the headlines, even before the story of NSA electronically eavesdropping on most of Europe’s leaders.  This time it was for punching a guy who tried to horn in on a picture he was taking with another fan.  I know that Lou Reed hadn’t even made a public appearance recently, and Brown is all over the charts, but c’mon.  There’s gonna be plenty of chances to report Chris Brown getting arrested because he punched somebody.  Again.

This guy has issues.  He beat his girlfriend (the equally mediocre Rhianna, who got back together with him for a little while).  He pitched a fit in his dressing room on a national morning show when the interviewer asked him about it.  He had a couple of recent confrontations with other popular artists, (much better) singer Frank Ocean and (so-so) rapper Drake.  He’s been in numerous scuff ups with neighbors, paparazzi (not that I blame him for that), fans, and innocent bystanders.  He’s been in and out of court rooms so often in the last couple of years, they probably have reserved parking for him.  Even after doing community service (which he cheated on at least once) and going through anger management classes, he still keeps getting in trouble.

What makes this so nauseating is that so many people just keep making excuses for him and letting it continue.  His fans say he’s just misunderstood.  His management says it’s his entourage and the media causing all the trouble.  (Note to the management: if Brown’s entourage is responsible for so much of the trouble he’s in, maybe you should consider getting rid of them.)  The courts just keep slapping his wrists.  Here’s what I have to say to all these people: Pull your heads out of your asses.  Chris Brown is a nasty, short-tempered, violent, selfish little bastard.  He’s never going to change, not without hitting bottom.  And he’s never going to hit bottom if you all keep enabling him.

Years ago, Robert Downey, Jr. was high.  All the time.  Repeated arrests and stints in rehab did nothing.  He broke into strangers’ houses and fell asleep because he couldn’t remember where the hell he lived. (He was like Lindsay Lohan, only with talent and charm.)  He finally got tossed into prison for being, well, an idiot.  His idiocy did continue for about another year, but when faced with another prison stint, he cleaned himself up.  He got help for his mental and emotional problems (he’s bipolar).  He got himself together, because he knew that he would die if he didn’t.

Chris Brown isn’t an addict (at least, not that I know of), but there is clearly something wrong with this man.  There might be hope for him if somebody would just stand up to his petty bullying and say, “No more.”  Until then, we’re just going to keep going round and round with this snot.

Posted in Music, R&B/Soul | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Lou Reed

Posted by purplemary54 on October 27, 2013

This one is hitting me really hard.  I am shocked and saddened at the sudden death of Lou Reed.  I really don’t know what to say.  He could be crude, arrogant, and supremely distasteful.  But he was one of the finest songwriters that ever graced Rock & Roll, and a charismatic performer.  He was, to me, the coolest guy to ever walk the face of the Earth.

“Busload of Faith” is one of my favorite songs by Reed.  It’s angry and sarcastic and marvelous.  Lou Reed had gotten kind of happy during the last decade or so, but he never quite let go of the hardass attitude that made him so great.

My heart goes out to his widow, Laurie Anderson, and the rest of his family and friends.  Lou Reed was 71.

Posted in Music, Obituaries, Rock | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

“Southern Cross”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 26, 2013

“Southern Cross” might be my favorite Crosby, Stills, & Nash (and sometimes Young) song ever.  It’s just a simple lost love song–heartbreak and loss on the high seas.  Sailing here is a metaphor for healing and moving on.  Stephen Stills sort of wrote this; it’s actually a reworking of another song by two other guys. (The quote from Stills given on Wikipedia says “Once again, I was given somebody’s gem, and cut and polished it.”

This one shines like a diamond to me.  I know nothing about sailing (except that there is no way on God’s Green Earth I will ever do it).  The sparkling harmonies and shimmering guitar help make it perfect.  It was easy to respond to the fine production and sincere emotion (Stills wrote this after his divorce in the early 80s).  But what really sold this song to me is this one line: “She is all that I have left, and music is her name.”

I’ve never been so down, so heartbroken, that I truly felt like music was the only thing I had left, but it’s always been where I find solace.  It heals me.  It balances me.  That’s why I try to make sure I listen a little bit every day.  It’s why I sing along in the middle of the grocery store.  It’s why I spent $250 on an iPod.  This particular song is very healing itself, which I suppose means Stephen Stills did his job on this one very well.  Or maybe this song did it’s job on him.  Because for all the sadness here, there is forgiveness and hope . . . and a tiny touch of bitterness at the end (hey, he’s only human).  I imagine writing this was cathartic and healing for him, just like the trip he based it on was.  That’s what music does best.  It brings our feelings and lives into focus, lets us share all those undefinable things in a way everyone can understand.

Posted in Music, Rock, Singer-Songwriters | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Freaky Friday: Huh?

Posted by purplemary54 on October 25, 2013

I’m a little kefuffled right now.

Umm, yeah.  Okay.  So that just happened.

I’m not quite sure what just happened.  But there it is.  In full color.

Dangerous Minds has actually been doing my work for me again, because that’s where I first saw this clip by a mysterious entity called Zek Nab.  Marc Campbell, the original poster over there, didn’t quite know what to make of it either.  All I can think is Windham Hill meets The Hobbit.   Seriously, it looks like some of my geeky friends from high school got together in present day to dress up as Tolkien characters and play-synch along with some 90s New Age music.  I googled Zek nab just to see what came up, and at least two of the links led back to the DM post; most of the others were for various YouTube videos (this one is pretty wild, too).  It’s kind of jaw dropping, like a horrible car accident or Mariah Carey video.

I’ve got nothing else to add to this.  It’s just too weird for words.  But I will echo Marc Campbell’s call for more information.  If you know who or what Zek Nab is–or if you are a member of Zek Nab–please reach out and let me know just what the hell you were thinking.

Posted in Freaky Friday, Music | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“California Dreamin'”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 24, 2013

There’s a better than fair chance you have no idea what this song means.

I don’t mean its literal meaning, of course.  That’s pretty obvious: A guy who’s stuck somewhere cold and dreary wishes he could run back home to Southern California where it’s “safe and warm.”  Papa John Phillips wrote this song after a dream while they were living somewhere on the East Coast during the winter.  (The story I remember is that they were actually living in a tent in the snow because they had no money, but I don’t know if that’s correct or not.)  It was a huge hit for The Mamas & The Papas in 1965.

What people seem to have more trouble with is feeling it creates.  It’s a dreamy, bittersweet, melancholy song, but that emotion means nothing to you if you’ve never been to SoCal, or if you’ve never left it.  You can respond to it, understand it abstractly, even identify with it.  But the only way “California Dreamin'” really hits you in the solar plexus is when you’re a SoCal resident who listens to it, oh, anywhere else.

I got punched by this song when I was in Las Vegas one year.  Some friends and I went for New Year’s Eve, so it was really freakin’ cold outside.  I’d caught a cold, and I was feeling pretty miserable.  I decided to go back to the hotel and take a nap, so I took the bus down the strip.  They were piping music in, which I paid zero attention to until those familiar guitar notes came falling down like rain.

I almost cried.  Those lovely, slightly unsettling harmonies, spoke to every cold, tired, unhappy fiber of my being.  “I’d be safe and warm, if I was in L.A.”  For the first time in my life, I understood what that song meant.  I’d longed for my home musically before–I played “Hotel California” on my Walkman as we landed at LAX after my high school trip to Europe.  But it was sort of an abstraction that was attached to my family and house and Disneyland.  This was the first time my feelings were ever about California itself.

I really do believe this state does weird things to people.  I was born here, and I’ve never lived anywhere else, so my perspective is naturally a little warped. California changes how you expect things to work.  Those of us who live here understand how absurd and shallow and expensive it is.  We criticize and complain about everything.  We sometimes even move away.  But we always come back, even if it’s only in spirit.

When we got the Powerball here a few months ago, the State Lottery started running commercials for it.  They used the best cover of “California Dreamin'” I’ve ever heard.  It’s by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, a Belgian women’s choir conducted and accompanied by two brothers.  I don’t care that much about the Powerball, but I will almost always stop whatever I’m doing to pay attention to that commercial.  It’s haunting and surreal, and it captures every strange, discordant feeling anyone from this unreal place has ever had about California.

Posted in Music, Rock, Singer-Songwriters | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

“Back ‘n Blue”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 23, 2013

This is one of the great underrated classics by Cheap Trick, although I suspect it’s so underrated because it was the only good track on the album.

“Back ‘n Blue” is from their 1990 album Busted, which was the follow-up to their career-reviving 1988 album Lap of Luxury (which is a pretty awesome album, btw).  Needless to say, Busted did not live up to any of its predecessor.  I probably first heard this song when I bought the album, and it quickly became one of my favorites by them.  I can’t quite say what sets it apart from anything else they’ve recorded.  Their special brand of Power Pop is as powerfully poppy as ever, with some really good fuzzy guitar from Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos’ usual whipcrack good drums.  I really dig the sincerity in Robin Zander’s voice, like he’s really begging his girl to take him back (even though it’s pretty obvious he’s kind of an asshole).  I just like it.  A lot.

I probably gave the whole album one listen (I vaguely remember one or two other songs), but the only one I ever come back to is this one.  If I were compiling a best of for Cheap Trick, I’d include this song.  I’ve already listened to it something like five times preparing for and writing this post; I’m still not tired of it.  That’s one of the best things about this song, if you like it, that is: It never gets old or overplayed.  It’s actually kind of a pity this one never charted, because it really should’ve been a monster hit.

Of course, Cheap Trick is happily (and probably profitably) playing the state fair circuit.  Former drummer Bun E. Carlos recently sued the band, and I believe they’re countersuing.  Some nonsense about money, I’m sure.  In a couple of years, after the suits are all settled, they’ll reunite and play a well-received reunion tour.  Or Carlos will go on to do something awesome along the lines of his work with Tinted Windows, while Cheap Trick keeps touring with a different drummer (by all accounts, they still sound good).  I kind of hope they’ll work it out.  Cheap Trick was always one of those groups that just worked.

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“Mama Weer All Crazee Now”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 22, 2013

Really, Dangerous Minds is getting to be my favorite pop culture blog ever.  Among today’s posts was this gem, which just made me laugh out loud.

Normally I don’t think mental illness is anything to laugh at.  And I certainly don’t find the deplorable and degrading conditions of insane asylums of the past very amusing.  But there’s something about this, well, insane list that you just have to laugh at. If you were to use this list as a proper guide for diagnosing mental illness, we’d all be locked up.

Good thing for Quiet Riot that egregious misspelling wasn’t on that list.  Although I suspect they would’ve qualified under one of the other reasons.  I’m officially nuts according to this.  I’ve engaged in novel reading many times, and what’s more, I intend to do it again.  What reasons would get some of y’all locked up in West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane?  Anyone get kicked in the head by a horse?  Anyone?  Been eating snuff for the last two years?  Had any bouts of dropsy?  (Here’s a larger image of the list, just in case you want to give it a more thorough examination.  I’d insert it into the post, but it’s a bit too large.)  I’m sure we could all find something wrong with ourselves.

On a slightly more serious note, I found it a bit disturbing that so many of these “reasons” for commitment to an insane asylum were related women and their bodies.  I’m not surprised by it; there’s a long history in psychiatry of trying to attribute any sort of mental problems to simply being biologically female.  But it’s a little scary seeing categories like “imaginary female trouble” listed.  (I wonder what qualified as “imaginary.”)  The level of sexism on display here is pretty breathtaking.  And commitment to mental hospitals was regularly done by family members or employers because the lunatic in question somehow didn’t live up to their standards for “normal” behavior.

I’m glad we can look at these kinds of things and have a little chuckle now.  Even though it’s still highly stigmatized, mental illness is acknowledged as having real chemical and biological bases.  And treatment is better today.  Mental hospitals are as clean and safe as any other hospital.  There’s proper medication, that actually works for most people.  While it is kind of fun to look back on the ignorance of yesteryear, it’s also important to fight the ignorance that still persists today.

Repeat after me:  Mentally ill people aren’t “crazy.”  They have legitimate medical conditions that will improve with proper medical treatment.  The only crazy people are the ones that think they’re normal.

 

Posted in Music, Rock | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »