Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Overheard at Table 3: Hitler and Netanyahu

Some guy: You know, I heard that Hank Jr was making a stink about Obama playing golf with Boehner and saying that it'd be like Hitler playing tennis with Netanyahu, and you know I think that's just totally wrong. I completely disagree. Boehner is TEN TIMES the fascist that Hitler could ever dream of being!

Note:  this was overheard a few years ago, before we knew what Fascism in the USA really looked like.  In 2020, we found out.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Overheard at the Counter: The Beatles 1970

Ok, so today I was in a mood and decided to check on each of the Beatles' solo albums immediately following their acrimonious divorce, because as I recall, they all had still sounded Beatle-esque at that time, particularly since a lot of the songs on their solo albums were stuff that they had been writing during the Let It Be sessions.... at least Paul's stuff, anyway.

So I have to say that my original assessment still fairly well holds true.  Except for Ringo's albums, which I did not listen to at the time, I must admit.

To rank them: McCartney's solo foray ranks right at the top.  This one is filled with great little rhythms and really nice riffs.  Definitely is a home-studio album, but the fact that he plays every single instrument is still an accomplishment that cannot be swept aside.  You can definitely see how he made the strung-together side B of Abbey Road, and that he really has an ear for melody or hook.   I have to admit, though, that his ideas (at least in the 70s) really worked best when he had a working band, who could take all his ideas and tap them down into actual songs with structure.  Still, though, of all the 1970s Beatles solo albums, this one is the most listenable.

Second is All Things Must Pass by George Harrison. Still his greatest accomplishment, although I have to say I still find the live third album boring and unlistenable.  The two studio albums I like very much, even though it does seem as though it is one song, done over and over again.  I mean, all the production is the same.  It's just that some songs have a faster tempo than others.   Still though, even though it's 14 cuts of one song, it's a nice pleasant song and good to put as background music.

The third goes to John, but really only because Ringo's albums were written by other people.  John at least wrote this material, but that's all I can say about it.  Plastic Ono Band sounds like John just went through six months of primal scream therapy and this is what he wrote of it.  Everyone prides John on being "raw" and "honest" - which is fine - there have been MANY "raw and honest" albums by artists that were also really good albums.  Just because he's baring his soul does not mean that the songs are good or that the music is good, and the songs and music on this album simply are not good.  "Working Class Hero" is really the only listenable cut on here.  "Love" is acceptable and "God" could have been made into a good song if he'd had a good producer (like George Martin) who would have really taken this song to new heights.

And then there's Ringo... Ringo actually had TWO albums, but one was some lounge jazz covers "Sentimental Journey" and one was a Bakersfield country album "Beaucoups of Blues."  I like Bakersfield music, but this album just sounded like he was singing "Act Naturally" over and over again at a karaoke machine. 

I do think that, had they stuck together for another year, of these four albums, all the chaff would be cut away and they would have probably come out with another album just as good as Abbey Road.  But sadly, they didn't and this is what we have ... but it truly shows you that, in music, it's not always the individual singer/songwriter/musician that counts.  Good music is as much the people who help you craft the music as it is your personal idea.  Good music is also production.  Production is like an instrument unto itself, something that can kill a song or make it great.   This is probably why George Martin truly was the fifth Beatle, and without him to give them guidance, they each spent 1970 trying to find their individual ways in the dark.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Overheard at Table 4: Oil Based Paint

So why did you let him use oil based paint?

He said it had to be done for the bathroom, because of the humidity.

But we haven't been able to sleep in the bedroom for three days!  How long is the paint smell gonna last?

I checked online and it said it could take up to a month.

A month!  Babe, what the hell!

I know, I know!  We should have done it ourselves, but YOUR JOB is so much more important!

Look, my job is what is helping us get the whole renovation redone!

See my point!  It's always about your job and never about what you can do around the house.

I still don't think you're getting the point that my job is what GETS stuff done around the house.

Like MY job is not important?  I bring money home too, y'know!

Yes, BOTH our jobs are important ... but that doesn't change the fact that we can't sleep in our own bedroom because the painter guy spilled toxic chemicals all over the doors and walls!

Overheard at Booth 1: See You Yesterday (2019)

I would put this in the list of "must-see" films, and not just because it's topical and not just because it shows African Americans from the Bronx being successful in scientific breakthroughs (time travel built in the garage by two teens!), but mainly because it is a well done script and fairly well acted and really hits home the idea that, just because you CAN do something, it doesn't mean that you SHOULD.

For those who love time travel movies, or series of error movies like The Butterfly Effect, this is definitely a watcher.   Plus, this movie does not shy away from the topic that we are all facing now: the police brutality against people of color. 

So, stop reading this and go watch this movie!

Overheard at Table 4: Children of War

[For American Leaves]

We children of The War
weaned on Forbidden Planet,
raised on Summers of Love
           and moon landings and
           Kent State and
                             My Lai
                     (oh my!) we
look around us now
         and see ourselves in
every reflective surfaces - these
         old eyes

[this is possibly just a fragment, or at least an idea interrupted]

Overread at Booth 3: From a Journal Entry 2012

You were almost there.
Zero visibility.
The flight was cancelled.

Then they started playing
               *that song*
and you looked around at the faces
               in the crowd,
expecting to pick his out.

Who were these strangers?
               Who did they love?
Who were they?  Walking forward
in this airport full of
               buzzers and dust and
heelclicks on marble floor.


Overheard at Booth 1: Just One of the Guys (1985)

OK, so, after Disclosure, my wife wanted to see Just One of the Guys, which was a movie I had missed in the 80s... I think that was in the middle of my second marriage, which might have been the year things started going sideways, but that's another story for another time.

So, I watched it with the eye of watching the viewpoint of how it offended the transactresses on Disclosure, and as I said at the other table, not being part of the LGBTQ community, I only saw it as nothing more than a pretty cute, but badly acted, loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Basic plot: pretty girl wants to be a reporter but her high school teacher thinks only guys can be that, so she goes to another school as a boy to get a good story, ends up falling in love, dumping her asshole college-age boyfriend, and having the best scenes stolen by the kid who played her horny 15 year old brother.

I think what the transactresses had been offended about was the idea that she was only a "real" woman is exposing her breasts.   But for someone who is cis and not trans, I only saw that scene as part of the storyline, to show the straight male love interest that she was not a gay man but in fact a straight woman.   I do admit that my inability to understand how this might offend or make someone non-gender conforming uncomfortable comes from my privileged upbringing.

I WILL, however, say, that I noticed one kicker at the end of the movie.  OK, so our main character, Terry, has gotten rid of the asshole boyfriend who thinks her wanting to be a reporter is merely a "hobby" and she offended her love interest, who is a decent guy, but is hurt because she had pretended to be a man .... the point being is that he was offended not by her transvestitism but because she lied to him ... at the end of the movie, when he comes to apologise for being a jerk, she accepts, and then invites him on a date on Friday.

Then he says, "No, let me be the guy.  I ask you on a date this Friday... and I'll drive the car."

Now THAT is a bomb blast that just totally exploded the movie for me.  She got rid of one overbearing jerk ... for another?

That was essentially saying, "We can be romantically involved but only so long as we continue the established roles that are inherently inequitable."

Basically, "Me Tarzan You Jane"

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Overheard at Booth 2: Real Genius (1985)

Wow, watching Real Genius now is not like how I remember it.  I do remember the great lines, but why do 80s movies seem so grainy now?   I don't remember them being so grainy.   But now they just seem to have no definition, visually ... weird thing.

Anyway, I must have gotten this movie confused with Revenge of the Nerds, because I kept expecting to see Anthony Edwards in it, and also I wondered when Kelly LeBrock was going to come bursting out of somewhere, and that's when I realized I was thinking of Weird Science.

Still, though, I can't believe I still remembered the Val Kilmer lines 35 years later.  I guess some things do have an impact on you, such as this exchange:

      Val: If there is ever anything I can do for you... or more importantly, TO you, let me know.

      Girl: Can you hammer a six inch nail through a board with your penis?

      Val: Not right now.

      Girl: A girl's gotta have her standards.

The 15 year old boy in me finds that hilarious still.  The 50 year old man that I am, well, still finds it freaking hilarious. 

Overheard at Table 4: Disclosure (2020)

Transgender activist and actors/actresses spend two hours railing against the unfavorable representation of transgenderism in a century of film history.

While important, it does not truly put into context the fact that there was no comprehensive and widely known language for transgenderism during that century, and as such the documentary slides into the trap of imposition of modern mores onto prior eras, which essentially sets up a somewhat unsolvable problem, because those times are gone, done.  They have made their mark, they have made their product, and those who made the movies who made fun of the LGBTQ community were themselves products of their time.

What impacted me most were the actresses who have taken roles in recent television shows and then have a sharp critique of how transwomen were portrayed.  I was left only with the thought, "But you contributed to that.  You said you wanted to sit up during the scene and say 'this is not what this is like!' but you didn't.  You took the job, and thus you contributed to the storyline."

One scene truly impacted me.  Seeing a transwoman in a 1973 clip yelling at a crowd of people how she had been beaten, had her nose broken, lost apartments, lost jobs, just for being a transwoman - that felt real.  That was heartfelt.  That was impactful.  And while I myself will never know the pain that it must be like to have to face such negative societal reactions for being gender non-conforming, I can say that the clip from 1973 carried much more emotional impact that an actress offended by a transvestite showing her breasts in the 1985 movie "Just One of the Boys" - a movie which, by the way, my wife said was one of the first movies she saw when she came to the USA, so we watched that one next.

As the documentary ended, my wife said, "So, whenever you have wandering eyes, just remember that woman you lust after could have been born male."

To which I replied, "Well, baby, since you are the only person I am going to be with until I die, it's really not much of an issue, but as far as looking goes, hey, if she's a woman's hot, she's hot.  And like fine art, I am just a man who appreciates beauty.   Just sayin."

Friday, June 26, 2020

Overheard at Booth 3: 21 Century

"Look," said my grandfather, "when I was a kid growing up in the 50s and 60s we read all sorts of sci-fi ... Asimov, Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke.   I had every magazine - Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, all of those ... and lemme tellya, each and every one of them promised we'd have flying cars and transporters by the 21st century.  We'd have outposts on the moon, and we'd have tourist trips through the rings of Saturn.

"...'bout the only thing that came real was cellphones so that we can, sure, talk to anyone else, anywhere on the planet.  But without all that other stuff, there really isn't much to talk about except the same old business of war, poverty, injustice and 'hows the weather'!

"... I gotta say, overall, the 21st Century has turned out to be a major disappointment."

Overheard at Booth 2: White Supremacy in the Military

Billy:  Just heard about the traitor they found in the military.

Joe: Muslim?

Jim:  Nope.  White Supremacist.

Bob: Huh.  Both are the same to me.

Billy: He was being deployed to Turkey and made plans to get his own unit ambushed.

Joe: Why.

Jim: Satanist.

Bob: Jesus, Satanic white supremacists are the worst.

Billy: White Supremacy is Satanic.

Joe: Can't whitewash that.

Jim: No siree ...

Bob: ... Bob.



Sunday, June 21, 2020

Overheard at Table 1: Song For Billie

For Billie

We have gone through the pain, dear
We have gone through the pain
We have danced in the rain dear
We’ve caught the midnight train

We’e had plenty laughs, dear
And we have talked until the dawn
We have closed down every bar
Drank every bottle til it’s gone

Black or white it don’t mean much
So and so and such and such
So many paths to walk upon
Right or wrong don’t struggle
Just miss me when I’m gone
Just miss me when I’m gone

We have watched the people fade, dear
We've seen others go astray.
We've seen some being led away, dear
Never to return some sunny day

We've played our music so loud, dear
For those with ears to let them hear
Our history has made us proud, dear
And that is the very thing they fear.

Black or white it don’t mean much
So and so and such and such
So many paths to walk upon
Right or wrong don’t struggle
Just miss me when I’m gone
Please, just miss me when I’m gone.


Overheard at Table 3: Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is so tricky, as there are so many different feelings around Fatherhood and so many conflicting relationships that we have with our fathers.  We all want the ideal of the father who is present, positive, and protective.  Often I think we at most, get two out of three, if we're lucky.

The unlucky ones get none of the three.

But let me explain a little about the three aspects of fathers.  Present is the guy who shows up at all the sporting events and takes you to the doctor and knows everything about your life, because he's always there.  Often he is positive but that is not guaranteed.  Sometimes he can be a sullen cuss and some dads can want to know everything about your life because they are overbearing control-freaks.

The positive dad is the one who always sees the bright side of everything.  Sometimes the positive dad can be a silly goofball and never really be serious when he needs to be.

The protective dad always makes sure that you have what you need.  Often restricted to food, clothing, and shelter.  You already know that this type of dad is usually the workaholic.

So yeah, you're darn lucky if you get the trifecta.  If you do, say a thank you to God for your blessings.  But heck, even if your dad has just one of these good qualities, be grateful for that as well.

There's a load of kids out there who have or had fathers who never had any of these qualities.

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Overheard at Booth 1: Various Artists "The Beatles' Yellow Submarine"

A remake of the Beatles Yellow Submarine album
recorded in 2011, but, due to contractual limitations, it has never been released

Shaggy - Yellow Submarine

Los Lobos - All Together Now

Arcade Fire - It's All Too Much

Snow Patrol - Only a Northern Song

Lil Kim - Hey Bulldog

Tori Amos - All You Need is Love

Kronos Quartet - Yellow Submarine Orchestral Suite:
        Sea of Time
        Sea of Monsters
        March of the Meanies
        Pepperland Laid Waste
        Yellow Submarine in Pepperland

One reviewer who heard the album considered it "audacious, if flawed" while another wrote that "It was something that only someone who enjoys Beatles covers could truly enjoy." 

Overheard at Table 4: The Help (2011)

It was a hit when it came out and it is a hit again in 2020, immersed as we are in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.   The Help is a period piece set in Mississippi in 1963, a dark year in a dark state. 

PLOT: Rich white girl writes the stories of poor black women, who are maids in the houses of rich white women.   POINT: Slavery never really went away.

A mere nine years ago, the movie was widely seen as exposing the conditions of African Americans; now, through a different lens, the white girl writer is seen as the now-despised "white savior" who is the only way to give blacks a voice.

This may be true, but one could argue that in 1963 Mississippi there really was very little access that a housemaid had to obtain publication.  This is not to say that it was impossible, it is merely to say that the rich white girl telling their stories is the more PROBABLE.  It makes more reasonable sense.

Now, the question that one reviewer I heard recently was very apt: he asked, "Do the black characters in such movies stand on their own, or are they just vehicles for the white characters?"

Most likely, one could say, that in the case of The Help, the answer is YES.  Most of the story centers around the power play of two former friends: the writer and the social leader (who is the consummate "Mean Girl") and how they relate to the ditsy blonde with the heart of gold.

Personally, I found that not only the black characters were stereotypes, the white characters were also stereotypes.  Nobody in this film was fully fleshed.  The Mean Girl was pure caricature and so was the ditsy blonde.   Straight out an Archie's comic book.  Rather laughable. 

The black characters as well, the two housemaids who lived together, with one of them finally emancipating herself and her five children from an abusive husband which we never saw but only heard about, even they, at the end, have a moment that seems to indicate that they were in a romantic union.   The idea of two black women who fall in love with each other, in 1963 Mississippi, dealing with how to raise children in a world that actively wants to murder their sons and rape their daughters, fighting not only white supremacy but also misogyny and black male dominance as well .... now THAT would have been a story that the rich white girl could have only DREAMED of telling.

So, if anyone out there wants to write a sequel, set in 1968, focused solely on the black cast and these two women, during the year that both Bobby Kennedy and MLK Jr were shot, well, I just gave you the idea.   Go have fun with it!

Make us a movie worth watching!

Overheard at Booth 4: Provocateurs

By this time, the daily horrors had become so commonplace that nothing surprised the people any more.

That a person in the office of President of the United States would openly promote lies and conspiracy theories was nothing new with this person.  Indeed, it was to be expected.

Had this person actually offered words of condolences, words of kindness, of compassion, now THAT would have been surprising.

It was not in Trump's nature to be kind.  It was not in Trump's nature to show any decency, or tenderness.  The only thing he ever offered, and the only thing the people could ever expect, was for Trump to revel in the pain of others. 

Trump was the ultimate shadenfreude.  It was easily imaginable that, if his enemies were hauled before him, hung upside down, and eviscerated, he  would shower himself happily in their blood.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Overread at the Counter: "When I Sleep, You"

When I sleep, you
are my breathing, when I
dream, you are my
song, when I
wake, you are my eyes,
when I return
at the end of the
day, you
are my rest.


From a new collections, tentatively titled "Love Notes"
or perhaps "saritas" ... hm, no... "serenitas"... Serenatitas