Halloween is Coming

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My time away from the blogosphere wasn’t all bad.  Yeah, a lot of crap went wrong, but most of it has been taken care of.  And lest the Universe be listening to my complaints, please remember that I am grateful for all the good that fills my life every day.

One good thing coming up is Josh Ritter on Wednesday at Fingerprints (expect at least a couple Ritter posts in the next few days).  And I made plans to enjoy one of my all-time favorite scary movies at a theater with the lovely and dear Rarasaur at the end of this month.

John Carpenter’s classic Halloween is being shown on movie screens again for one night only on October 29th, just two days before the titular holiday.  Luckily, one of the theaters showing it is literally just down the street from my home (I’m not kidding; I could walk there).  Now I love this movie.  Halloween is probably the best of the slasher flick subgenre of horror, mostly because it basically invented slasher flick.  Oversexed teenagers getting picked off one by one by some faceless, masked killer who seems unstoppable, only to be defeated by the one good girl of the bunch.  (Many years ago, I read a great article for a class about why the heroine of these movies was always sober and virginal, and usually given a boyish name like Max or Sam; if I ever remember where that was from, I’ll add a link.)  Michael Myers was one creepy villain, and the tension of this movie is almost unbearable.  Or it would be if it weren’t so much fun getting scared.  While others of this genre have degenerated into ever more blood and titillation, Halloween set the bar with style and spook.

Part of the film’s success, I think, rests on the limited budget.  John Carpenter made this independent masterpiece for $300,000 dollars.  Because of that, much of the awfulness is kept in the shadows or not shown at all, which heightens the terror Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie feels as she discovers all the bodies and is stalked by Michael.  And like any really good horror movie, it takes some time to build up, so you get to know the characters.  I will always contend that the movies that wait to scare the pants off you work better because you actually have a chance to care about what’s happening.

One other thing the tiny budget for this movie gives us is the unmistakable theme music.  Since he couldn’t afford a fancy score, Carpenter composed and performed the music himself.  It’s one of the greatest scary themes of all time, largely because of its simplicity.  There’s no over-embellishment or Pop star singing some dumb song.  It’s just that same intense series of notes, over and over, coming at you with the same relentlessness as Michael Myers.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Gulp . . .

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I’ve made the Facebook jump, Jukebox listeners, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.  I’m not going to stop now, although I don’t know how attentive I’ll be.  I certainly won’t be constantly posting pictures or updating the minutiae of my life.  Hopefully, I’ve correctly linked the blog to my Facebook page, and this (and all other) posts will show up there.

Having created the page about fifteen minutes ago, I only have my sister-in-law as a friend, but I’ll get there.  I’m planning on being relatively private—or as private as anything on this corporate behemoth/Big Brother substitute can be.  We’ll see.  Either way, what’s done is done.  I’m officially a member of social media now.  I guess that means I have to actually do something once in a while.  But I think this song helps describe my mixed feelings.  Enjoy.

Repost: “Do It Again”

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I was bored the other night, and changed up the look of the blog.  I’m not sure why changing things up a little makes me think of this song, except for maybe the lyrics I reference.  Today’s been generally not a good day, too.  Which makes me think of the vicious cycle that is life.  Let me know what you think of the new look, okay?

One of my favorite Kinks songs, “Do It Again” chronicles the boredom and alienation of life, the greatest vicious cycle of them all. I don’t mean that life is bad, or anything negative. But it is just one damn thing after another. “Day after day, I get up and I say, ‘C’mon do it again.'” It doesn’t really matter what you do, how much you love your job or your family, eventually it wears you down. You get fed up and tired. And it doesn’t matter what you do to change things up, you’ll still be the same person who will eventually get fed up with everything all over. “The days go by, and you wish you were a different guy, different friends and a new set of clothes. You make alterations and affect a new pose: a new house, a new car, a new job, a new nose. But it’s superficial and it’s only skin deep, because the voices in your head keep shouting in your sleep, ‘Get back!'” (A possible homage to the Beatles?) What are you trying to get back to? I suppose that depends on who you are. And who you want to be.

There’s a sense of history to this song, but that’s no surprise. Ray Davies has always been the most British of the British Invasion rockers. He seems to carry his nationality with him like a touchstone. It’s a big part of the reason why the Kinks never had the same commercial success in the U.S., but it’s also what makes him so interesting. He understands that a large part of his identity is tied up in his Englishness, and that much of what makes him English is bound up in the history of England. He gets that it’s just another cycle, and he’s just another spoke in the wheel.

I guess that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I’m not in control of anything that goes on (as if I ever was), but I can control how I react. I’m still working on that one.

“3 in the Morning”

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Today’s song is from one of the blogs I follow, the creative and cool Disashi Soul. I’ve said before that Rap/Hip Hop is not really a genre I have a lot of breadth or depth of knowledge about; I am a middle-aged, middle-class white woman after all.  So I depend on luck, happenstance, and recommendations to help me find new tunes.  I got really lucky here.

If you haven’t checked Disashi out, you really should.  This song should be evidence enough of that.  I get the early morning dread this rumbling, rhythmic track explores.  (Been there, done that, got the bags under my eyes to prove it.) But there’s a soulful and hopeful edge to this.  The message is simple: Don’t do down, and if you do get your ass back up again.  Disashi is part of the group Gym Class Heroes, another check mark in his favor, although “3 in the Morning” is from a different project called New School.  This is cool stuff, and I highly recommend it.

Find Something New . . . Or Something Old

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I got all ranty the other day about the state of music today, and I feel a little bad about that.  I still stand by my rant, but I feel like I ought to offer people something positive.  It is possible to find good music these days, but sometimes you have to get creative.

I’ve mentioned Songza before, a music streaming service for people who actually like music.  But I’d also like to note that I am in the minority of my friends and family on Pandora; everyone else seems to really like it, and I do know they play some new and interesting stuff.  There are a lot of other Internet radio stations out there, and the web has made it possible to stream radio stations from all over the world. While satellite radio is really awesome, there’s also good stuff to be found on broadcast radio.  Try looking for you local NPR station.

You can still find good record shops out there, too.  It’s better now that the big chain stores have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur (although I do miss Tower Records).  I have Fingerprints in Long Beach, but there are lots of independent stores in most major metropolitan areas (the phone book is a great way to find them . . . and yes, the phone book still exists).  If you happen to be in the Minneapolis area, Rob over at 45 Spins is getting closer and closer to opening his store (I’m so excited!).  But there are other ways to buy music (and if you paid any attention to my rant the other day, then you know that you should damn well be buying music).

Most artists have websites now, with either stores where they sell their recordings or links to someone who does sell them.  And there are still independent record labels.  My generation had Sub Pop Records, which is still going strong.  There’s Matador and Pop Detective (home of the Dahlmanns), and a whole bunch of others out there (this list is from 2013, but I think they’re all still in business).  Yeah, itunes and Amazon will probably always be the biggest names in downloadable content, but there are less corporate ways to get digital music.

Noisetrade is my favorite so far.  It was kind of the inspiration for today’s post.  The sheer volume of stuff they have available is kind of mind-boggling.  What makes it really awesome is that it’s free.  You can download music for free, legally and everything.  Although since these are independent, working musicians,  you should follow the recommendation to leave a tip for the music.  I was trolling around there today, and sampled concert recordings from Josh Ritter and They Might Be Giants, along with some new artists I hadn’t heard before (I highly recommend The Howlin’ Brothers).

There.  That should be enough to keep you guys busy for a while.

As Seen on TV: “Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla”

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I guess I’m just feeling a little bit like a kid lately.  Or maybe this is an antidote to the episode of Penny Dreadful I just watched (dreadful things happened, which means the show is living up to its title).  But I feel the need to turn off real life and slip back into my five-year-old self in front of the TV on Saturday mornings.  In between episodes of Scooby Doo and Captain Caveman, I just might be lucky enough to see this particular song from Schoolhouse Rocks.

This lesson on pronouns was one of my favorites, but they didn’t play it that often (stupid conjunctions!).  I don’t know what made it so much fun–maybe I just really liked aardvarks.  It’s fun to sing along with, too; trying to get those crazy names right makes the song just the right amount of challenging.

Really, I was led back to Schoolhouse Rocks by this post on Dangerous Minds.  Watching the stylized 70s animation of John David Wilson in these bumper cartoons/videos from Sonny and Cher’s variety show reminded me of the style of the classic children’s interstitial cartoons/videos that taught my generation basic multiplication, grammar, science, and history.  There was something eye-catching about the primary colors and stock repetition of movement and scenery.

When you think about, these all these cartoons from the 70s helped make my generation the ideal audience for music videos and MTV.  Because of our childhood viewing habits, we were primed to accept songs and visuals as a unit, storytelling as another outlet for the music.  (Was I the only one who watched various variety shows as a child?  There were others out there, right?  I mean, you almost couldn’t turn on one of the half a dozen channels that were available back then without running into a variety show.)  In spite of all that talk about groups like the Beatles helping to create music videos, the truth was that cartoons had as much if not more to do with creating a generation of couch potatoes who expected everything to come in three and a half minute spurts.

At least that’s how I see it.

Yes, . . .

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I am coming back, but not for a little bit.  I just need a little more time alone with my thoughts.  Which is normally a bad thing, given my penchant for imagining the worst.  But I think this recharge is just what I need right now.