Friday, July 18, 2008


Quiet night - random reviews

After a particularly trying week at work. My wife is in Eureka. She has to take the CSET in the morning. She'll be attending HSU this year to get a special ed teaching credential. The kids are asleep.

That's Freudian sentence to type actually as the TV is on behind me with an airing of The Kids are Alright. I haven't seen it in nearly 30 years. In high school I saw it probably about 4 or 5 times in various states of consciousness. Usually it played in the now nearly extinct repertoire theaters along with the Woodstock documentary or the disco version of Hair released that same year. I'll admit I enjoyed it at least the first couple of times, but really it's a greatly overrated documentary about a greatly overrated band. I never really like Pete Townshend as a person, and watching these old clips doesn't improve on my impressions.

I won't make it to Reggae tomorrow. I'll make a donation. On Sunday I'm actually off to family camp for the week, out of range of cell phones, wi-fi, and pretty much all things electronic. I'll be there for a week. I'll leave an open thread in case anything happens and someone to monitor.

I didn't really like Keith Moon either. Daltry had the personality of a sponge. Entwhistle never annoyed me, probably because he mostly kept his mouth shut. He died in 2002. I didn't even hear about it until maybe 2004. A shame he didn't learn anything from Keith Moon.

But I liked the music. The lyrics were vacuous, but the music was fun.

I almost went to the closing tour when they came to the Oakland Coliseum in, I think it was 1983? By that time I'd gotten over them, but the Clash was opening for them and I wanted to see them. But the tickets were two rich for my blood anyway. When Townshend was asked what he'd miss most upon the supposed break-up he responded that he'd miss the big checks. My dorm mates thought it was clever, ironic, and creatively nihilistic. I think he meant it. They were too insipid for nihilism as much as they tried. The last I heard of them in the news, Townshend was under suspicion of downloading child porn claiming it was "research." He's not nihilist. He's just self-important.

Daltry did play the voice of a school bus driving dragon on a kids' music special on a library video my son picked out a few years ago. Was he hard up for money? Check it out, I found this clip on youtube.


Another recent blast-from-the past viewing was the 1990s version of Jesus Christ Superstar. While the original was filmed outdoors in the sun, the 90s version was filmed inside in claustrophobic fashion. The theme was darker in the newer version, as the chorus sympathetic to Judas was altered from the angelic tone of the original to one of more malevolence. Judas ended up in Heaven in the original, but comes back to haunt Jesus as a demon in the newer version. And Jesus wasn't a Tenor in the newest version.


On another DVD note, I just finished the old series Reilly Ace of Spies about Sidney Reilly, the historic figure on whom James Bond was loosely based. He's played by the British actor who was in Jurassic Park, can't think of his name. The theme of the series which was based on a book was the ascent of ruthless spying in the early 20th century as the "game" moved from somewhat gentlemanly practices to a no-holds-barred standard of practice. I'm not sure I accept the premise, but the series is probably my second or third favorite to come out of Britain after Upstairs/Downstairs and maybe To Serve them All of My Days. Actually, I have to work Prime Suspect into there somewhere. And yes, they're all better than Dr. Who, even during the Baker days.

Reilly presents some very interesting depictions of certain historic figures, including a very complex and nuanced view of Lenin not likely to satisfy either the hard core Third International hold-outs nor the red scare brigade. The depiction of Stalin was somewhat less complex, but then Stalin was less complex. I think the finale was somewhat fictional in that most sources don't think Reilly deliberately brought about his own death to bring down the infamous "Trust," and in fact he was probably outplayed in his last hand. But really, if you have Netflix, check it out. I was sucked in with the first episode.

Okay, I need sleep.

Synchronicity is not Freudian, it's Jungian. The archetype arising to consciousness and evidenced by your awareness of the synchronistic event is called the archetype of the Child. To learn what that signifies google --(Jung archetype of the child).
Eric, if you don't like them, that's fine, but I don't believe The Who ever claimed to be, or aspired to be, 'nihilistic'. My own opinion, which is backed up by a large majority of people in the rock music world, is that Townshend and The Who made an extremely valuable and meaningful contribution to the field. Townshend's little remark about the checks was one of those off the cuff things that one says to the annoying press to get rid of them when asked insipid questions such as why the band is breaking up etc. You're still fighting in your head with your dorm-mates about who is a cool rock band and who isn't (no pun intended). Time to grow up, kid, and get over it --and let's hope you don't get fooled again.
three words. The Dark Knight when you re-enter society.
I heard that the Joker was good but the rest of the movie sucked.
Reilly is THE best mini series to come out of England ever. The theme music - it was used at the Winter Olympics a few years back for one of the ice skating competitions - magnificent. It's also amazing how many actors - both one shot bit players and continuing characters - went on to important careers. I bought it when it came out on VHS and again when it came out on DVD. It's one of those series you can watch for entertainment value, or the deeper reality of the way things really were back then since it was based heavily on historical fact. I go with the series - Reilly was too dangerous for Stalin to let live - his paranoia about competitors (Trotsky, etc.) too intense. He was a rallying point others could have attached themselves to as Stalin's destruction of all rivals commenced. Overall one of the best series ever created.
I'll watch Dark Knight. I did enjoy the first one, but I'm not encouraged by the reviews.

And hey, I hadn't thought about The Who in years really. The documentary just happened to be on last night. Like I said, I enjoy their songs, but I've never felt that they belonged in the class of say, the Rolling Stones.

And yes, Townshend's remark was off the cuff. But watching the documentary, that's really his whole public persona - a whole line of off the cuff remarks in which he and Moon tried to pass just basic rudeness off as depth. He hated Woodstock. He thought his fans were idiots. He doesn't put out quality music because it doesn't sell. He's in it for the money. He doesn't want to be bothered with politics.

The documentary was a collage which was supposed to give us insight into his character. But it made him seem superficial. I think he is, or was anyway.

jim - the series suggested the Reilly played Stalin, sacrificing his life in order to bait Stalin into destroying the Trust, which had been set up to net opposition to the Bolsheviks. It's a bit elaborate, and great for film, but there's nothing I've read in the history which would suggest that Reilly actually understood that the Trust was actually counterinsurgency maneuver. There were a million ways he could have exposed it without going to the Soviet Union.

But it works into the storyline great, and if you suspend disbelief just so much it made for an excellent series right to the end.

What was interesting about the series is that you really didn't like him all that much. There were moments in which I actually sided with his opponents, such as the Germans in the shipyard spying episode where he hung his fellow agent out to dry to the disgust of the German opposition who were still clinging to some sense of civilization in the espionage trade.

And although I've long since given up any romantic notions about Lenin, I certainly related to the character's response when Reilly delivered the "offer" of "assistance" from British troops to suppress the SR's and restart the war against Germany. The response was entirely appropriate.

Certainly it's in the top 3, although Upstairs Downstairs remains the best television series in history, British or otherwise.
Another great series I recommend from England is Lovejoy. Based on the books about an antiques dealer but adapted for television, there were six years worth I think, it starred Ian McShane from Deadwood. Even if you don't care about antiques one way or the other, they are hugely enjoyable just as mysteries. Years two on are my favorites - it took them a year to get the characters right - and unlike Reilly, you really care about these people.
In referrence to Reilly - one of the things historically accurate was the betrayal of the White Russians by the British and their "landing" at Archangel of only two brigades. If they had kept their word and landed in force, the entire history of the 20th Century would have been changed. Also, while they showed the terrors of Felix and the secret police, there is no indication of the millions of people killed by the Reds taking power.
Not many rockers can be said to be in the same class as the Stones. But Townshend's contribution to rocknroll was much more than superficial. I judge him by his music not by by what you are calling his 'public persona' or a collage of interview bits put together by a teenage filmmaker.
Bob Dylan had the same opinion of Woodstock, do you think he is superficial? (rhetorical)
I judge him by his music not by by what you are calling his 'public persona' or a collage of interview bits put together by a teenage filmmaker.

A teenager produced The Kids Are Alright? Well, I change my mind. I'm very impressed.

Bob Dylan had the same opinion of Woodstock, do you think he is superficial? (rhetorical)

Actually, I do, but not because of his opinion of Woodstock.
Wishing Jana the best of luck on her test!

BTW, I liked the Who. None of my favorites from those days were terribly deep or great role models, but I loved 'em anyway. My high school boyfriend was in London in 1980 and picked Pete Townsend up out of a gutter where he'd passed out.
Eric Kirk thinks Bob Dylan is superficial! LMFAO!! I'd better not dare ask you what you think of the guy I was into when The Kids Are Alright came along and put me to sleep.
Eric, you remind me of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. You have this sort of canned review of artists and such that is obviously culled from magazines or the internet.

Karol - Was it Johnny Rotten who said that rock died when Syd died?

I was never an SP fan, but I did like the DK's and Flipper to some extent. Punk never grabbed me. Most of my high school years were oriented towards Pink Floyd (the pre-concept album era). Brian Eno. King Crimson. Yes. Jeff Beck. Return to Forever.

You know, the "deep stuff."
Re Dylan, you know, I loved the poetry. But I never got the impression there was any deep thought behind it. The guy jumped from religion to religion on a dime.
you may call me superficial
you may call my spirituality unofficial
you may call my taste non-nutritional
you may call me by my initials
you may call me anything but
you're still gonna have to serve somebody

hey, we agree on floyd crimson and jeff beck, and i think your blog is like the kids --alright!
but Yes? --NO! End of story ;)
but Yes? --NO! End of story ;)

Aw come on! Any group who hires Roger Dean to do their album covers is deep by definition!

He did even better covers for Ossibisa.

Eric, you remind me of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. You have this sort of canned review of artists and such that is obviously culled from magazines or the internet.

Referring to the Dark Knight reviews? It was actually the review in the latest (infamous) New Yorker. I've agreed with about 4 out of 5 of their reviews.
Deep by Definition --I saw them at Woodstock, they were awesome!
Sha Na Na was at Woodstock. They're deep too!
Super Fish-Owl is deeper.
The early episodes of Prime Suspect were brilliant. We are on the last disc of The Jewel in the Crown. It is wonderful and the books by Paul Scott are also terrific. The end of the Empire in India.
gramps - yeah, I liked the first two, maybe three. In the later series, they started to adopt a melodrama in chase and hostage scenes which made it less contemplative and more along the lines of American prime time cop shows. And they kind of lost track of the point.

Helen Miram on the other hand was brilliant throughout, as she's been in everything I've seen her.
that's Helen Mirren.
Also, while they showed the terrors of Felix and the secret police, there is no indication of the millions of people killed by the Reds taking power.

There were references to it, mostly couched in terms of the chaos in the transition. And no mention of Trotsky whatsoever, nor the crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion. But the story was from Reilly's eyes and he got his ass out of there once the SR rebellion collapsed.

In terms of millions, the killings really got going in the 30s once Stalin consolidated power and in the aftermath of the famines. Reilly was long dead by then.
Another interesting moment was Reilly willingness to kill the Romanovs to placate the populace had his group come to power.
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