“The Main Event”

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I know I disappeared for a couple of days after my last post.  I think I felt the need to distance myself from a decidedly disturbing musical experience.  Which would also explain today’s song.  Because the only way you’re going to be disturbed by this inconsequential Barbra Streisand tune is if you have a phobia about cheesy Disco-Pop.  Although since it’s sung by Barbra Streisand, this song does have one thing going for it.

Never let it be said that my taste in music is elitist.

Besides featuring Streisand’s powerhouse voice, “The Main Event/Fight” is also pretty darned catchy.  Too bad the movie the song is the theme for was so freakin’ terrible.  After the success of the screwball comedy What’s Up Doc?, Streisand re-teamed with Ryan O’Neal for the bland, unfunny, clichéd The Main Event.  Successful businesswoman finds herself nearly destitute.  Investment in not-so-great boxer is one of her remaining assets, so she makes herself his manager to ensure his success.  You can figure out what happens from there because it is painfully predictable.  I don’t think I even liked it when I was a kid.

But I did like this song.  It’s pure fluff, but it sticks with you–which would make it more like marshmallow fluff.  (FYI, my aunt makes the best fudge in the world using marshmallow fluff.  I have to get the recipe.)  One of my favorite things is the tempo changes that keep the song bobbing and weaving like a boxer, which not only ties it into the plot/characters of the movie but makes it a great song to dance to.  The best Disco gives the dancers time to catch their breath and get closer to each other on the floor.  There’s even an eleven minute extended version.  I also think the way the song is arranged, from opening to fade out, was also designed to make it easier for DJs to incorporate it into their sets at discos.  (That’s my guess anyway; it’s not like I’m an expert on how DJs do their jobs.)  Whatever the reasons for how it was made, “The Main Event/Fight” works as a song.

“Come and Get Your Love”

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My only excuse for being absent the last few days is that I’ve been busy.  And it wasn’t even all work.  Saturday night found me over at a friend’s house watching movies.  Now one of these has not been officially released on DVD yet, so the title will go unnamed.  (My friend is not quite as concerned with, um, certain types of downloading, which is why this friend’s name is also going unmentioned.)  But if you know anything about the movie, you already know what it is.

I had totally forgotten that this was a pretty darn good song.  I’d also totally forgotten that Redbone was made up of Native and Mexican Americans.  Well, I’d forgotten there were Native Americans in the band; I had no idea some of the members also had Mexican American heritage.  Makes sense, since they were originally from Coalinga, CA (near Fresno, site of a pretty nasty earthquake back in the 80s).  “Come and Get Your Love” was their only real hit, but it was a good one.

This song was used to great effect at the beginning of Unnamed Movie.  It helped set the tone and establish one of the lead characters.  Music can help make a good movie even better, and I think the soundtrack to this movie really helped it.  Oh, it would’ve been a fun and entertaining film without the music; the music just gave it that extra jolt of pleasure.  (Another awesome tune at the end had me doing a little couch dancing.)  The songs were obviously carefully chosen to complement the story.  So I recommend getting a hold of a copy just as soon as it is officially released.

“Coal Miner’s Daughter”

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Sorry about yesterday.  I’ve been trying to reset my sleep rhythms by spending less time at the computer and taking melatonin.  (BTW, melatonin is the bomb.  Totally works if you’re having trouble sleeping, and totally natural.)

Spending less time at the computer has, for better or worse, led to me watching a little more TV.  And the other day, I ran into one of my favorite movies, Coal Miner’s Daughter.  It’s the story of how Loretta Lynn went from obscurity to superstardom.  I first saw it on TV when I was eleven or twelve, and even though I barely knew who Loretta Lynn was (and a lot of the content of the movie sort of went over my head), I was enchanted.  She was just an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent, trying to cope with life.  It’s the kind of story anyone can enjoy.

I couldn’t find any good clips of Sissy Spacek singing this (although here’s a video of her with Lynn singing “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.”)  When you listen to the incomparable Loretta Lynn speak and sing, though, you can appreciate how dead on Spacek’s performance is.  She really nailed it.  (Her colleagues thought so, too; Spacek won an Oscar for the role.)  The movie also features Tommy Lee Jones as Lynn’s husband, who everyone called “Doolittle” even though he seemed to work pretty damn hard; and Levon Helm as Lynn’s father, the titular coal miner.  It really is fun to watch and listen to all that great Country music.

Lynn was always something of a trailblazer for female Country singers.  She wrote a lot of her own music, and tackled controversial topics like birth control and domestic violence.  Once she got past her youthful insecurities, it seemed like Lynn never stood for any nonsense in her life.  She did things her way, the rest of the world be damned.  What’s most remarkable is that her toughness never outshone her kindness.  You could always tell that Loretta was a nice woman, just by the way she smiled at the camera.

Lynn has continued to be a vital artist.  In 2004, she released Van Lear Rose, a collaboration with musical wunderkind/renaissance man Jack White.  The album was recorded shortly after Doolittle’s death, with my favorite track being the heartbreaking “Miss Being Mrs.”  She’s one of those wonderful people and artists that stays relevant to generation after generation.

One Year

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Today marks one year since my dad died.  I was going to use this song by Shawn Colvin for my post, because it pretty much sums up how I feel right now, but I couldn’t find a decent video to link to.  (No, clips from Dawson’s Creek do not count as “decent” in this case.)  This last year has been a strange one for me, “it shouldn’t seem so long or so weird.”  Except it hasn’t felt long; it still seems like yesterday everything happened.

Another thought came to me as I was contemplating video links and songs.  I’m still really sad.  I think I always will be.  I will probably be curling up into a fetal position and sobbing at some point today.  But I don’t want to be sad right now.  Daddy probably wouldn’t want that, and I know he wouldn’t know how to deal with it (he wasn’t very skilled at handling my emotional outbursts, for the most part).   So let’s not be sad, okay?

Harold and Maude was on TV last night.  This isn’t a non sequitur; I’m going somewhere with this.  For you poor, deprived souls who haven’t seen this magnificent movie, Harold and Maude is the story of young Harold, who is obsessed with death and drifting through life.  He meets free-wheeling 79-year-old Maude at a funeral, and they become friends.  Maude shows Harold how to live life to the fullest.  Maude dies.  Harold goes on.  (I’m leaving a lot out, but it’ll make the movie more fun if you see it for yourself.)  It is a dark comedy with a seemingly dark ending.

This movie really has nothing to do with my dad (although he enjoyed it almost as much as I do).  Neither does this song (not sure how he felt about Cat Stevens).  Just before the credits roll, Harold is seen dancing away after wrecking his car.  He’s probably still grieving, but he’s also still living.  I have the feeling that Harold’s life after Maude’s death was pretty damn awesome because he took her lessons to heart.  I’m trying to live in that emotional space.  I want to embrace the sadness I still feel, but keep dancing anyway.

This song isn’t quite how I feel yet, but I’m getting there.  (BTW, this clip is somewhat misleading about what happens in the film because of the order the clips are in; it’s much more interesting.)

 

Peter O’Toole

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I probably like Peter O’Toole as much as I do because of my father.  Although the movie Creator also probably had a lot to do with it.  It’s one of his less-celebrated movies, but I think it’s one of his most endearing performances.  There’s also the uninhibited silliness of My Favorite Year.  And, of course, there was his work as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha (and his singing was not half bad).  His dramatic work will always be rightfully acknowledged as his finest, but I like the smaller movies best.  He was such a charming and disarming man, and it was always such a joy to watch him act.

Peter O’Toole has died at 81.

 

Gone to the Movies: “The CIT Song”

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I like movies, but I’m not really a movie person.  I’m not a cinephile, or even a buff.  I tend to make snap judgements on movies based commercials or trailers, sometimes reviews if I’m on the fence.  I won’t pay good money to go see a popular movie if I think it’s going to be crappy.  (For example, I’ve never seen more than about ten minutes of Titanic, and that’s just the way I like it.  Frankly, it was ten minutes too many.)  But I also won’t pay good money to see a critically acclaimed indie movie if I have no interest in the story.  I have no tolerance for mindless action movies, or juvenile slapstick and toilet humor.  As a result, there are a lot of movies I’ve never seen, and probably never will see.

I wasn’t always like this.  When I was a kid, I’d watch anything.  Which is probably what explains my great affection for 1979’s Meatballs, starring Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Murray.  Its very loose plot is about how the counselors and kids navigate friendships and romance, all while competing against the local rich kids camp.  (A lot of Bill Murray movies feature some subtextual commentary on class, something I think someone should be doing academic studies on.)  Really, it’s just a feature-length excuse for kids to say funny things, sex jokes, and Murray hamming it up (“Hey, you, on the waterskis!”).  It’s exactly the kind of movie I would snub today.  But that would be a mistake, because Meatballs really is kind of funny.  There are good characters, and a lot of heart to it.  It also featured one of my favorite bad 70s songs, David Naughton’s “Makin’ It.”

It also featured this little gem.  I don’t know the origins of “The CIT Song,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if the filmmakers based it on some actual campfire sing-along for Counselors in Training (CITs).  It’s one of those songs I sing randomly, for no apparent reason.  It just pops into my head, and I have to get it out.

This movie almost makes me wish I’d gone to summer camp, or been a counselor.  Almost.  It would’ve been fun if I actually didn’t have to do any sports or activities or anything else they do in the movie.  And if maybe they could’ve eliminated any possibility of sleeping outdoors.  Or, really, any outdoor activities other than a nice walk or two, and sitting beneath some shady trees reading.

Freaky Friday “In the Dark”

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Okay, so I know pretty much zip about DJs and their music.  I’ve heard it called by a number of different monikers, including house and industrial music.  But my familiarity pretty much begins and ends with Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” (which is an awesome song, btw).  The only other thing I know is that the massively talented Bob Mould is apparently also massively talented at DJ-ing (if you choose to believe insane music geek Henry Rollins, which I do).  Otherwise, DJ music is pretty much a blank for me.

Which really left me wholly unprepared for this.

I first heard about this video over at Dangerous Minds, so I gave it a look.  I’m not sorry, because it is so amazing to see and hear.  But it is also profoundly unsettling.  The music is by a DJ known professionally as The Gaslamp Killer (named after the downtown San Diego district near the convention center, where ComicCon is held).  I sampled most of the tracks from his 2012 album, Breakthrough, which “In the Dark” is from.  The majority of the album is in the same artistic vein–which means it’s quite good, but there’s something dark running just beneath the surface.  The video is directed by a pair of filmmakers billing themselves as Hyperballad.  Their use of dichotomy (black/white, men/women, light/shadows) helps create cryptic, ominous visuals that accompany the vaguely terrifying music perfectly.  It’s rare to find a video and song so well-suited, even in this day and age.  The effect is striking, to say the least, but it’s not something I want to watch all the time.  Or, really, ever.

I’ve had creepy things on my mind for quite some time, now.  It started a number of years ago when a former coworker turned me on to the TV show Supernatural, which reawakened my childhood love of ghost stories and paranormal weirdness of all kinds.  I occasionally watch My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera on cable, and I’m very much looking forward to The Conjuring, which will be in theaters in July (it’s based on a case involving Ed and Lorraine Warren, supernatural investigators I read about as a kid).  I also just read The Exorcist, which is one of my favorite scary movies, and which proved to be a good read as well.

The only real difference between the novel and the movie (beside a lot of language and some sexual imagery that would’ve earned the movie something stronger than an R rating) is that the novel was so emotionally unsettling.  I spent a couple hundred pages really getting to know these characters, getting inside their heads, even as the world turned upside down on all of them.  And there’s no explanation as to why it happened.  There’s no instigation or provocation.  The demon just shows up and takes possession of an otherwise ordinary child.  That’s the crux of what makes something like The Exorcist so frightening: There’s no reason behind it.  It just happens, and all these people are left dealing with the fallout.  Kind of like life.

Well, I’ve just been a little ray of sunshine the last couple of days, haven’t I?  It’s probably a sign that I could use some more sleep.