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Monday, August 31, 2009

Caught by the Fuzz

Over the weekend, I was reminded again of how frustrating new DVD technology can be. In this most recent case, I saw that Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are now available on Blu-ray. Both movies are two of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in the last few years, and their DVD extras are exceptional. Except for the fact that both movies have already been re-released a couple of times each. And that's not counting the Blu-ray version or HD DVD version.

Since the popularity of both movies have been substantially bigger in England, it makes sense that their Region 2 DVD editions have way more supplements than the Region 1 editions. So I was surprised when Hot Fuzz came out as a three-disc set in the U.S., importing all of the extras from the Region 2 version along with some more things. Alas, the Region 1 version of Shaun of the Dead only has half of the supplements from the Region 2 version. I'm thankful I held onto my region-free DVD player.

Now with the Blu-Ray edition of Hot Fuzz, I'm slightly torn. The transfer is much better, and it seems like all of the DVD extras made it onto this edition. But is it really worth buying again? If I find a used copy for a great deal, I'd definitely consider it. I already did that with Donnie Darko, a film I already had two different versions of on standard DVD.

For those that aren't that well aware of the benefits of Blu-ray, let's just say you cannot get much better than its screen resolution. But I have found that only truly benefits movies that were made since mostly with digital technology. And not all Blu-ray transfers are the same.

I could be chasing my tail here. There might be another, different format in five years that seems to be the standard. Or, there could be a way to make high definition movies much easier to store and download, thus jettisoning discs completely. And for me as a fan of DVD extras, that would be a great loss. Since I've learned way more about filmmaking because of DVD extras than I learned from my film classes in college, I can't imagine somebody benefiting from that kind of convenience. But I digress.

All this said, I have to say that there is a lot to be happy about with Blu-ray players and 1080p TVs. Just even on standard DVD, seeing a show like Cheers look incredible through that system is way better than I remember on a 28-inch analog TV in the 1980s. I just wonder when we'll all decide what's good enough with screen resolution and presentation. Or is that always subject to change with technology?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flip the digital switch

I've mentioned before how I don't have cable television. I have plenty of reasons why I still don't have it since the switch from analog to digital signals, but I thought it was time for an update.

Basically, if I want to watch a Cowboys game this fall or a new episode of LOST next year from my couch, I'm screwed.

Rewinding a bit: back when I was talking with my new housemate, Matt, I asked if he wanted cable TV when he moved in. He declined, citing many of the same reasons that I haven't had cable since I moved to Dallas seven years ago. Since we both work in places that have several different televisions always on, there is a desire to not have the TVs at home. That's where the Internet, DVDs, and books come in handy.

So with the digital switch, and after a few channel scans, all we really get off the rabbit ears are the local CBS affiliate, a local station with ties to the CBS affiliate, and a few Spanish language stations. That's right: no Fox, NBC, or ABC affiliates for us cheapskates.

I enjoy watching Cowboys games, and any football game looks incredible in high-definition. I love watching new episodes of LOST, as well as an interest in other shows currently on the air. The deal is, I could go to a local bar, or even some of the local theaters around here to watch the Cowboys play. And based on my experience seeing the previous season of LOST at the Angelika, I have plenty of reasons to go back for the sixth season.

Knowing those things presents a bind. Actually, a real bind because it sure would be nice to have those signals for NBC and Fox come Sunday afternoon or if the Angelika decided to not to show LOST and not announce it to the general public. I don't want to impose on friends and family that have cable, so there's the question mark.

A few days ago, I took a call from my Internet provider, who also happens to offer cable TV. In a rare, rare feat, I did not hang up on the guy who called me. Usually, any form of telemarketing receives a hang-up from me. But the guy was trying to give me a good deal on cable TV service and willing to set up a time very soon to get this installed. Clearly the guy was reading from a long script written to pitch and not leave room for any questions from the customer. I politely told the guy I was not interested and he thankfully did not pressure me. And the call ended with "bye" on both ends of the phone.

Before I start to regret doing that, I'm reminded of the time I spent at my parents' house over the weekend. Tons of relatives were in town as well, and I got to have some great conversations with them. But the TV itself with cable was a nice thing to have when reading the book I'm reading made me sleepy. Plus, my parents don't have an extensive DVD collection, and there's only so much I can handle with watching full-screen versions of some of the Harry Potter films.

Now the pickle has been laid out on the table: do I give in or not give in? Now you see why I have a hard time making a lot of decisions when it comes to stuff I spend money on?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Behind Quiet Little Voices

Like I couldn't be any more self-conscious about things, I figure it would be interesting to turn the light around with yesterday's post. Too often you read critics who go to town on some band, movie, trend in music, or trend in movies and it just seems out of the blue and angry. "What's gotten into that guy?" people wonder. Well, let me just speak for myself on my issue with rock drummers who only use one cymbal.

I think of that Blackpool Lights' song, "It's Never About What It's About," when ranting or arguing about something. Meaning, what you're ranting or arguing about is indicative of something bigger that's on your mind. This might seem like old news to folks, but it still feels new to me.

In the case of rock drummers with one cymbal, I have the bias of being a guy that has enjoyed playing in bands, but isn't currently in an active band. All of the bands I've played in have been fun, but I tend to forget that when I remember how much anger and sadness I felt when I was fired from my last gig. That was two long years ago, and I just haven't found a new band or gig that I could totally be myself in. I blame the idea of being myself for why I got fired, and don't usually think of other factors that have nothing to do with me or my style of playing. Such is the life of over-analysis.

So when I see bands with a drummer with seemingly zero attention paid to accents or dynamics, I wish I could be up there at least trying to do a better job. I want to be the guy that doesn't just settle for one cymbal, sloppy transitions, or limited dynamics.

That leads to an even bigger thing on my mind: maximizing the full potential of life. Dealing with the sudden loss of a friend to cancer earlier this year and hearing about another friend who might not be alive in the next few months due to cancer has had that kind of effect on me. The topic of getting over my own emotional humps comes into play when fully realizing how fragile life is and how incredibly unfair life can be. If everything ended for me tomorrow, I would have wanted to do so much more, and I would have tried to figure out why I couldn't have done more. Such is life.

Turning the light back to its position, I hope that provides some context to the rant. You only read the critic's opinion about things, and apparently it's cardinal sin to open up your own life, but I don't care. Frankly, I just hope to shed more light on things better than saying something a few years down the road about how I was an angry guy and whatnot. Keeping up this blog has done that in spades.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quiet Little Voices

After seeing so many bands and have enjoyed many of them, unfortunately, I still have a deep-rooted prejudice with loud, dynamic rock bands. I must confess again that I hate it when a rock drummer only uses one cymbal. More specifically, besides a hi-hat, this drummer thinks that all he or she needs to rock out is one cymbal. Yes, just one cymbal can hit like a crash but also be played like a ride.

Well, not everybody's music is like the Flaming Lips, with all sorts of coloring by guitars and keyboards and programming. And not every drummer is as crafty on the drums as Steven Drozd. And not everybody can play like Centro-matic's Matt Pence either. So that said, I get rather annoyed when I see somebody holding him or herself back from rocking completely out with just sticking to one cymbal. Dynamic-wise, it's just not enough in a rock band.

To recap, because I've blogged about this before (and I'm too well aware of that): on a cymbal, you have three primary spots to get three different sounds. There's the edge, the top side, and the bell. Trying to play a cymbal as a crash and a ride at the same time is difficult because the cymbal moves when hit and it starts ringing the second it is hit. So why a lot of indie rock drummers think this is the way to go, I'm just not sure. (Yes, I once played an entire set of Rolling Stones covers with just one cymbal, but that was to honor Charlie Watts's style of not playing on a lot of cymbals.)

So this leads me to something I experienced over the weekend. While watching a local duo who has received plenty of love from people in the last few months, I was very underwhelmed. Not only did this duo suffer from not having a bassist, but the drummer played too simply and (sarcastic gasp) with only one cymbal. Accents and dynamics just seemed tripped over and slopped over, and that was not for the best in this band's case.

Couple of days later, I'm finally getting around to hearing the much-praised We Were Promised Jetpacks' debut album. (I had heard half of the record before, but I had yet to listen to it from start to finish.) Yes, this band is very, very good and lives up to the hype, but something made me wonder while I was listening to the songs. The drummer doesn't play with a lot of cymbals, could he possibly be another one of these guys that thinks all you need is one cymbal? The horror! I even listened very closely, and I could not totally tell.

Perusing YouTube today, I found the video for "Quiet Little Voices." To my relief, I was happy to see that the band's drummer uses one small cymbal as a crash and one larger cymbal as a crash/ride.

Why does all of this still get to me/make me wonder? Because I truly value the role of a drummer in a rock band. My time in rock bands since 1994 is a big reason why I get really uppity about it. If the drummer is holding back by dropping beats and accents, that's something that holds the whole band back. You're only as good as your drummer, as (Saint) Joe Strummer put it on the Westway to the World documentary. Like many other things about life and music, he was totally right.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Crack the Skye

Once again, I'm amazed at how music you resist time after time finds a way of eventually capturing your attention. And your enjoyment, I might add. This time, it's on Mastodon.

Recap: when I first heard the name Mastodon online (probably on Pitchfork or the Sound Opinions Message Board), I thought this was referring to that side-project by former Strife frontman, Rick Rodney. Rodney was the band, playing everything, and there was a song by him on the Songs for the Brokenhearted compilation put out by Glue Factory. The reason why I had the comp was because Jimmy Eat World had a rare song on it: their version of the Wedding Present's "Spangle."

When I kept hearing about Mastodon as a metal band, I wondered if this was still Rick Rodney's project. Granted, he sang for a pretty intense metal/hardcore band before, but I would not classify his work under the Mastodon moniker as metal.

Finally I figured out that Mastodon the metal band did not, or ever have, Rodney in the lineup. Made up of members from Atlanta and Alabama, they got plenty of nice mentions for their Remission and Leviathan albums, and even more praise was given to their major label debut, Blood Mountain. I wasn't impressed by Blood Mountain completely, but I figured this would be a grower of an album, so I bought it.

I also rented The Workhorse Chronicles DVD and dug the interviews as well as the plethora of live footage. These guys seemed like an exception to the metal rule: they weren't trying to be the heaviest band in the world. Rather, they were trying to be the best band they could be. Still, something just didn't fully sink in with me about these guys. Seemed to me, they liked the play a lot of riffs and sing/scream, but as far as full-fledged songs with punch? That had yet to be convincing for me.

When the band's fourth proper album, Crack the Skye, came out earlier this year, I took a listen. Once again, their music just sounded like a bunch of calculated riffs and snappy snare and tom tom fills. So I passed another record of theirs off. But something happened when I heard a brief snippet of the album's title track on a recent episode of Sound Opinions. Just that snippet alone made me want to hear the album again. Hearing the album again, I figured it was time to revisit this band as a whole.

Now I'm at a point where I'm bouncing between listens to Leviathan and Crack the Skye quite a bit. And something that I have not done since college is go back and listen to a band's back catalog because one or two albums just aren't enough.

I have no real explanation of why this is the way I get into certain bands. No matter how much resistance I have to them initially, there seems to be a way that I "get" them, even if it's long since past how cool they are to those who are eternally skinny, always look like they just woke up, and rarely shave their faces on a regular basis.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Organization (CD-R edition)

Reading through a recent post by Kev, I have to address an ever-growing puzzle for myself as a music fan: how to organize my CD-Rs. I have my reasons for organizing my CDs with jewel cases, but CD-Rs with no jewel cases? Different sort of thing.

I distinctly remember back in high school when I asked my friend Tim why he alphabetized his ever-growing CD collection: "So I can find 'em." Suddenly in that moment, the reason to do this made complete sense to me, and I have always alphabetized my CDs since then. But the thought never occurred to me when I started burning CDs in college. Since my collection was small, I never thought about doing that. Now I've amassed hundreds of CD-Rs and a vague idea of where each one is.

I think how I organize my CD-Rs is based on when and where in my life I got them. But in hopes I don't sound like Rob Gordon from High Fidelity, this is not a filing by autobiography. There was a time when I burned a lot of XTC, Idlewild, and the Pernice Brothers records because I kept hearing raves about them in The Big Takeover in 2002 and 2003. So it makes sense they are close together in this one full-sized spindle. Criteria like that is how I find the discs, but it takes a few tries to find a particular CD-R I want.

Of course, this makes finding something difficult quite often, and I wonder why I don't just alphabetize them. Well, I counter that with the enjoyment of finding a different CD-R I have either not heard in a long time or neglected, and I want to hear it again. That's happened quite a bit, and I enjoy the experience.

Yet the easy way out of all of this organization quandary is to rip all of my CDs into a humongous hard drive and go from there. But since I like holding CDs in my actual hands, I choose to not do that. And that includes CD-Rs believe it or not.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The End of an Era (Cassette Tape Edition)

Last week, I did my first interview in well over two years. I believe the last time I did an interview was for Punk Planet, for a piece that ended up making the cut for the final issue of the magazine. I must say, after two years of not doing an interview, I still really enjoy talking to band members from bands that I like, and the conversation flowed really well. Once I have my article my published, I will hopefully repost it here.

In the meantime, I realized something over the weekend about a rather bygone era that I still choose to do my interviews with: a cassette recorder. Not a micro-cassette, but one that holds a four-track size cassette. Yes, as in the size of cassette that, along with millions of kids from the 1980s, listened to on a Walkman back in the 1980s. Well, after a trip to Best Buy on Friday, I see that either the store no longer carries blank cassette tapes or they just moved them somewhere else. I have a feeling that they no longer carry them.

So this means I will finally have to face the reality of getting a mini digital recorder.

As my friend Kyle put it to me a few years ago, "Once you go digital you never go back." I'd like to say I'd agree and this could be an easy transition. But there's a side of me that is resistant to the change, given the difference in storage capacity and sound quality between analog and digital. Since I'm not sure about how you change out the digital cards and how the noise reduction sounds, I'm cautious, but willing to make a change if it's for the better. Yet in this case, I've run out of options.

To give some crucial backstory here: I have parents who still use cell phones from at least twelve years ago. In technology terms, that's a century, but my parents stick by their phones, even though the batteries quickly keep dying out and they drop calls all the time. Consider this a stubborn attitude, but if the thing still works, why should you drop it just for the latest edition that probably has a ton of bugs in there, and not all that it's cracked up to be?

So with the tape recorder, I have four blank cassettes left, and I plan to use them for an upcoming feature article. After that, either I hop onto the Internet and find more blank tapes, or get in the proverbial bed with a digital recorder.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One day, it's a whole different story

I am rather baffled by the way that certain movies have a bad reputation for years, but one day, it has a completely different one. I fully understand that opinions are subjective, yet when a movie is seemingly so hated for years and years, I find things strange when people start praising it. It's like I could start hearing all sorts of praise for Mamma Mia! after hearing nothing but negative reviews since its original theatrical release. Wouldn't that seem strange, or am I just listening to loudest haters too closely?

I remember when I didn't follow what movie critics thought about movies currently showing at the box office. I never read a review of Buckaroo Banzai growing up, nor did I ever read an analysis of Back to the Future's script, but I watched those movies at least a dozen times each growing up. Only until high school was I really aware of what critics or academics thought about movies. Now I'm trying to get a point where I was before all of that.

What got me thinking about all this came from reading another one of the many lists that Entertainment Weekly posts on their site. This one pertains to a top twenty list of horror films since 1989. On this list were a few films that, up until I read this list, seemed universally despised by Those Who Choose to Speak Up (as in, most people who post things online, from Roger Ebert all the way down to the grammatically-challenged anonymous writer on a message board). These few films include From Hell, Hostel 2, and Alien 3.

Why should I care what people really think of these films? Well, I'm just all too aware of movies that generally elicit a very negative response from people that are into movies. Just standing behind my love for Mamma Mia! comes with some rather guard and preparedness to give exact reasons why.

So in the case of From Hell, Hostel 2, and Alien 3, my opinions of them have little or nothing in common with the negative responses I've heard from Those Who Choose to Speak Up. With From Hell, it was "not as good as the comic" (but I loved the film). With Hostel 2, all I heard was "Oh brother, more Torture Porn" (but I looked passed the grisly aspects of the film and found some really disturbing parallels to human nature). And in the case of Alien 3, all I heard was that it was nowhere near the greatness of Alien or Aliens (and I have never seen it before).

Once again, why should I care what people really think of these films when they were released or when writers decide to do retrospectives? Well, films strongly affect people, and those that are passionate really speak their minds about what they like and don't like. I don't consider myself a one-of-a-kind sort of person or anything like that, but I do have opinions about movies that seem to fly in the face of the average pissed-off-and-bored-at-work message board troll. That's where things can seem isolating, and frankly, a reminder about what it's like to have a passionate desire for films.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No stars are out tonight

Over the weekend, while watching a clip of Jack Wagner performing "All I Need," I wondered about the art of a good lip-sync performance. In the case of the Wagner clip, it is the exact opposite of Michael Jackson lip-syncing to "Billie Jean." Here's a rundown:

What's wrong with the "All I Need" clip
1. Clearly, the instrumentation of the group is nowhere near what you're hearing. Jack might be strumming a guitar in the intro, but you sure can't hear anything other than vocals and keyboards. And drums never sound like that in a live setting.
2. You see half of his backing group singing backing vocals, but all you hear is Jack's voice.
3. And yes, the hairstyles and clothes are silly. (Yeah, yeah, it was the 80s, I know.)

What's right with the "Billie Jean" clip
1. There's a big difference between a lone singer lip-syncing to a backing track and a group miming to a backing track.
2. The dance moves totally sell the performance. Even a purist can't help but be moved by the power of Michael at this point in his career.

Now it might be unfair to compare a power ballad with an uptempo R&B track, but there's something to be said about a mimed performance that is embarrassing to watch and another that can send chills up one's spine.

I grew up on watching mimed performances on Solid Gold and American Bandstand. I didn't know what lip-syncing was until middle school, and to be frank, I didn't care if the vocals or instruments were "live" at that point in my life. Of course, the purist attitude kicked in and wanted to see live bands in the now and real, but for now, I understand both ends of the spectrum. A purist might dismiss a lip-sync performance of Wham! on American Bandstand, but would probably watch Scott Walker mime to "Jackie" on Dusty Springfield's show.

I accept the fact that lip-syncing all about the performance. Besides, not everybody wants to approach a live performance like the Replacements.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life is not a waiting room

This week I hope to interview a relatively young band I have come to like quite a bit in the last few months. I was asked by my editor to do a small piece on this band, and I hope to cover their next Dallas show as well. The deal is, I want to ask questions that are not generic, but aren't too inside. And this attitude is very fresh in my mind after a brief encounter at the Warped Tour.

Though the day was cloudy with some visits from the sun, that early July day was still hot. The three bottles of water I had went a long way for me to survive the day. But there were a few trips to the press room where I just sat and relaxed for a few minutes. During one of those trips, I experienced an interview that I know all too well. It's the kind of interview you've heard plenty of times before, and the kind you've seen plenty of times before.

Questions like, "How's the tour going?", "How would you describe your newest album?", and "What do you like about touring?" are all questions I have asked before, and so have millions of other writers. But something just didn't sound right while I sat there listening to this guy conduct an interview filled with these questions. And this has been staring at my face the whole time:

Generic questions yield generic answers.

One of the frustrating but rewarding parts of the research for POST was reading online interviews. For every ten interviews that asked about how cool the tour has been so far or how awesome it was to tour with this band, I found a couple of interviews with real meat in them. Now, meat isn't necessarily trash talk or rumors. I mean stuff that went beyond the surface.

I know that oftentimes editors just want their writers to skim the surface, but for me as a fan and a curious person, the surface just isn't enough. Many of the interviews I have conducted in my life have had limited time allotted, so I had to make the most of the time I had. In other words, there's little room for generic questions. Just showing the person I've interviewed that I've done some research often drew praise. Hearing the phrase, "Wow, you've really done your research," never gets old for me.

All this said, generic questions are not the end of the world. Frankly, they can get the ball rolling and lead to meatier stuff. Besides, this is probably the first (and maybe only) interview you have with somebody, so you have to break the ice in some form or fashion. I just want to encourage young writers to not be afraid to go beyond the shallow end of the pool when asking questions.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What are The Whispers?

As enjoyable as it was to read this list of fifteen mysteries the final season of LOST "must answer," a part of me had to say, "Oh, come on." Even though the final season of the show doesn't start until my nieces turn three and I reach the one year anniversary of my thirtieth birthday, I can't help but think about what we will see. And also, what we'll have to figure out for ourselves.

Maybe because we never get all the answers to life while we're living, there's a desire to know all the answers with the TV shows and movies we watch. In the case of finding out Libby's backstory, I seem to be in a minority that frankly doesn't think there needs to be more backstory told. Damon Lindelof even ironed everything out in a recent interview, and I'm satisfied with his answer. Maybe because the audience was teased with a possibility for more info about her, given her abrupt departure from the show, is why this is.

I have no idea where the final season will go, but knowing what I've seen in the past with the show, payoffs are a plenty if you look hard enough. Hell, even rewatching an episode from the first season after watching all of the episodes so far gives way to so many layers. And that's why this show is so compelling. And hopefully didn't all happen on Earth B in the DC alternate universe.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Everyone's Waiting

I fully understand that not everybody finds the subject matter of Six Feet Under appealing. Who really wants to watch a drama about a family who owns a funeral home when you can watch The Bachelor instead? Well, I really loved the first two seasons of Six Feet Under because it was a show about making the most of life in the shadow of death. As a very moving show, I loved watching the series up to a certain point.

Once again, I choose to not evoke the superficial tag of "jump the shark," but I slowly lost interest in the show once Nate became more and more of a person I hated. What if Luke Skywalker abruptly turned to the Dark Side after Obi-Wan Kenobi died in A New Hope? I wouldn't buy into it, and I didn't buy into it when Nate turned to the Dark Side on the show.

So in my viewing experience with the show, there's a stopping point with Nate's near-death experience in the opening scene of the third season. I have not had any great desire to watch the rest of the show, but I always wanted to see the series finale. And sometimes, the mood is right to just sit down and watch the finale.

Well, let's just say that some really tragic news came my way a few days ago. A friend who opened up his home to me on holidays when I could not leave town because of work has not much time left to live. Coupled with losing a friend to suicide and another to cancer just this year, I thought it was time to deal with the grief by watching probably one of the best shows about dealing with grief. And I'm so glad I watched the series finale.

Everything I heard about the finale was true: the sense of finality coupled with the powerful Sia track, "Breathe Me," made for a powerful experience. My eyes felt like they were going to come out, but that was fine with me. I felt better after I watched the episode, and I have a little bit of curiosity to see some of the episodes/seasons I missed.

As much as I try to stay positive, there are times that life steers you away from it. For as much crap as there is on television, I'm thankful that a show like Six Feet Under exists. We can always find something to complain about in life, but I'd prefer to focus more on the things that make life worthwhile. I have the show to partially thank for that attitude.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Take Me Away

A few years ago, I praised Killswitch Engage on this here blog quite a bit, as well as a few other modern metal bands. I still consider myself a big fan of The End of Heartache and As Daylight Dies, as well as KSE's Set This World Ablaze DVD, but trying to get into their latest, their second self-titled effort, has been difficult. I still call myself a fan of the band, and in hopes of not coming across as a fickle fan who abandons ship on a band (and burns the ship and claims to never really be on the ship anyway), I have some explaining to do.

I think it's fitting that the person who introduced me to the power of this band via his blog is also the person who best sums up my issues with 2009's Killswitch Engage. Eric's review is right on the mark. There are definitely great moments right out of the gate with the first two songs, and just when the record starts to feel really stale, in comes in a phenomenal intro on "Take Me Away." Yet "Take Me Away" as a song kinda sums up the album as a whole: great start, lackluster payoff, and the best stuff is at the beginning.

I fully understand that metal in itself is a limited genre stylistically and melodically. Like the aforementioned KSE records I like, I still treasure albums like Botch's We Are the Romans, the Dillinger Escape Plan's Miss Machine and Ire Works, and All That Remains' The Fall of Ideals., as well as pretty much every album by Zao, Metallica and Pantera. But what makes metal so unique and special is also what holds it back from being anything more than what it is. The desire for heaviness, brutality, power, rawness, speed, and the possibility for some friendly melody is strong, but all that after while starts to retread on itself.

As I've mentioned before, listening to metal music can be like looking at a number of different painters who only paint with black, gray, silver, and maybe a hint of brighter colors like red or white. In other words, the lack of variety is stilting, but if a band can make creative use of that limited color palate, then they're worth the while. But don't expect to buy every new record they put out. That's the lesson I've learned from these great bands. And I see no reason to drop my overall fandom of these bands just because I wasn't blown away by their latest record.

Monday, August 03, 2009

How to enjoy A Summer Place

I talked about it a few weeks ago, and I now I'm reporting on my thoughts on A Summer Place. Let me put it this way, if you like camp, you're in for a treat. Of course, I'm not talking about going out in the woods, pitching a tent, and making a fire. No, this is the kind of movie that should be enjoyed with a drinking game.

I should say before I go any further that some of the acting is really strong, especially Richard Egan. That said, pretty much every character in the film is a one-note character. And just like imagining an entire concert where the main instruments play one, maybe two notes, imagine that for a little over two hours. Um, yeah . . .

Basically, if you're up for it, take a drink whenever the following happens:
--The still-popular "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" kicks in.
--A major music sting occurs when a parent faces the camera.
--A long-winded soapbox about love is spoken.
--A close-up of a person with a single tear occurs.
--Bart takes a drink.

With all kidding aside, I was glad I watched the film. Even with the worst movies I've seen in my life, I'm glad I've seen them. Why? Because I know what it's like to see a great movie that fulfills and entertains like no other. But also in the case of A Summer Place, I have a better understanding of why the theme music is still popular. There's richness in the melody and the playing. And, there are a lot of sweet and warm notes -- something severely lacking from the movie's script and acting.