The Audacity of Rock: Part 35

A case study to bring back the rock flute.

Much like everything else that was good in fashion, film, and ethics, the 80s swept away the rock flute. The flute now remains a forgotten relic of folkier times in rock 'n' roll, laying waste in the hands of gossipy girls in the high school marching band. Let's reminisce about the good times, and prove that this is an instrument that deserves to come back.

"Forty-thousand Headman" by Traffic (live in Santa Monica 1972)

A flute can make a story sound old school campfire legendary.

I love everything about this band: the silk shirts, Steve Winwood's blank eyes, the blue sports jacket, the maracas, and most of all the flute.

"Song for Jeffrey" by Jethro Tull (1969 performance)

When used with gritty vocals and a slide guitar, a flute sounds incredibly earthy.

I'm pretty sure I see this guy on the street daily in Seattle, so where's the rock flute?

"The Musical Box" by Genesis (1972 on Belgian TV)

A flute can make a creepy fairy tale even more haunting. The (prog) rock flute starts at the 1:20 musical break. I recommend sticking this song out to the end. It is transcendent.

Did you stick around for grope-y Peter Gabriel?

"Everyone" by Van Morrison (off the 1970 album Moondance)

Last, a rock flute can make a song sound madrigally celebratory.

Dear people who are in charge of Van Morrison's music, why can't I find embeddable Van Morrison content? Love, a lover of Van Morrison's music.


1. How awesome is the rock flute?
2. What instrument would you like to see make a comeback?


Cannonball Read #19: Howl's Moving Castle

The one book I've managed to read this month is, shockingly, a YA book. I was interested in Howl's Moving Castle after watching the Miyazaki film of the same name, mostly because parts of that movie just do not make sense. Do things make more sense in the book? Mostly. But without Joe Hisaishi's romantic waltz of a score and Studio Ghibli's magical animation, the novel turns out to be a fairly innocuous coming-of-age tale.

Sophie Hatter is the oldest sister of three. She's resigned herself to a mundane, frumpy life in a hat shop, secure in the knowledge that only bad things happen when the eldest seeks out her fortune. Her life is interrupted when she offends the Witch of the Waste in a rare bout of sauciness. The witch ages Sophie's body to that of a 90-year-old. Sophie flees the hat shop and finds herself more confident with herself, knowing that people forgive the actions of old people. She finds shelter from a threatening looking scarecrow in the feared wizard Howl's castle.

She soon finds out Howl's reputation is to ward off unwanted attention and that the real Howl is "slither-outer" young man. I think we've all met that guy: the 20-something with potential, but a desire to do as little as possible. So yeah. Adventures ensue as Howl is also under a curse from the Witch of the Waste, and Sophie gets to know Howl's apprentice, Michael, and Howl's fire demon, Calcifer, better. And then she's trying to keep her younger sisters safe as best she can.

It's not a spectacular novel, but it's fun. It somehow took me a month to read, but that was more out of pure busy-ness rather than disinterest. It's a great story about not giving up on yourself not doing anything or trying to get out of things you know you should do. The mythology of the story is fairly easy to follow, and you know I love some romance tossed in, too. Nice, light reading.


Four things I'm currently obsessed with

Party Down

All the pain of The Office UK, this time with failed actors in a catering business.

Parks and Recreation

Magnificent mustache.

"Cubism Dream" by Local Natives

Apparently the lead singer's first name is Kelcey. Approved.

Adventure Time with Finn and Jake

This clip is probably only hilarious in the context of the show. Viewed on a Friday afternoon. With a 4th grader. While you're half-napping.


Everyone covers Dylan: "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"

"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" is an absolutely ridiculous song with a strip-tease beat. Found on Dylan's 1966 album Blonde on Blonde, I'm pretty sure none of the musicians on the record are sober.

The original:

I love the laughing through the singing thing though.

A 1991 cover by the classically rock and roll Black Crowes:

No really, could they be more rock 'n' roll?

Fellow old-man, talk singer Tom Petty does a rendition in 1992

That guitarist almost looks familiar. Should I know who that is?

Apparently a version by the Beatles. It's quite short:

Good ending though.

For some lady-action, here's Ana Cañas spare 2007 version:

Interesting, no?

And for pure obscurity, "Pietre" by Antoine. It's not a straight cover, but it was influenced by "Rainy Day Women." Probably. Google translation is tricky. 1967 in Italy:

Nice 'stache though.


Against All Odds (1984) in real time

Netflix Watch Instantly and the title of my favorite Phil Collin's song = of course I'm going to watch this movie. Also, Netflix guesses I'll give it 2 stars. Also, I have a test tomorrow. Also, I'd like to make you experience this as well, in a really truncated way.

(pictured left:truth in advertising)

1:28 - Jeff Bridges has a beard: approved.
2:05 - Even my high school Spanish knowledge lets me know that Mr. Bridges' accent is awful.. He's asking about some girl in a picture.
3:55 - So many xylophones.
4:30 - Football flashback. Jeff Bridges playing football? This is precious. Shoulder trouble!
5:27 - "Fuht-ball."
6:35 - Some dude with the voice of Unsolved Mysteries' Robert Stack's voice.
7:50 - Kicked off the football team because of his injury. Damn.
8:19 - Apparently his name is Terry Brogan.
9:51 - Something's afoot with this firing from the team. How old is he supposed to be? Is this NFL? Cuz it looked like high school facilities.
11:11- The team was called the Outlaws. I'm still not convinced this isn't a high school team.
12:10 - Money problems!
13:20 - Wikipedia tells me this is a remake of Out of the Past, a 1947 noir film. So that's where this is headed.
14:27 - Office assistant forcefully trying to get a date--awesome!
14:55 - Man emerges from the shadows as
Terry works out. Yesssssss.
16:00 - So many stripped shorts. Also, man with a cane.
17:09 - Beach volleyball bookie?
18:15 - Ball-proving dangerous drag race in busy traffic with Terry and Volleyball Bookie. I hope this ends in tragedy.
20:42 - No tragedy. Just barely missing a garbage truck. I'm so disappointed. Also, where's the femme fetale already? I thought this was supposed to be a neo-noir.
21:42 - Job offer as a celebrity bar tender! This is shaping up nice.
22:22 - There's our crazy girl in a photograph, Jessie. She stole money from Volleyball Bookie, and is Mrs. Wyler's mother. Also, the chick in the pictures at the beginning that Jeff Bridges was speaking bad Spanish about.
23:13 - Oh snap! Mrs. Wyler and Terry have a past of some sort.
25:05 - Mrs. Wyler is a perceptive old broad.
26:16 - Volleyball Bookie is named Jake Wise. Huh.
28:05 - Blah blah blah, you just want your Outlaw's job back.
29:40 - Sierra Club? Plot twist!
30:20 - Jeff Bridges is pretty dreamy.
31:09 - And the sleazy lawyer is thrown into a drum set.
32:00 - People hate Jake Wise. This working for him thing is going to be disastrous. Love it.
33:16 - We're back to the beginning sequence and the topless tanner is not Jessie.
33:45 - The combination of Spanish guitar and synth is magical.
35:15 - Jessie's found.
36:00 - Holy crap, it's Meggie from The Thorn Birds and she's saucy. Something tells me this isn't going to be any easy job (that's what the witty sidekick would say).
37:20 - Lies to Jake about finding Jessie.
37:45 - Playing checkers with some local kid--spots Jessie--she's going off in a boat, and he can't catch her.
38:50 - Terry hires a motorboat to track her down. She's drawing on a moutain side or something. Have I mentioned this is a ridiculously gorgeous tropical location.
40:00 - Blah blah blah Jessie has daddy issues. She also figured out why Terry is there.
41:00 - Update: they're in the Caribbean.
41:44 - Terry takes off his shirt to get back on the boat as Jessie stares after him. What the hell is this music trying to indicate?
42:20 - "I want to talk you," said Jessie to a totally ripped Terry. Is that all Jessie?
43:35 - Tracking down Jessie's place that she told him about. Also, cue sleazy electric guitar.
44:45 - Tequila. Oh, boy.
45:40 - Rich girls don't have the soul for rock and roll.
46:22 - Blah blah blah Jessie has mommy issues, too. Also, her brother killed himself with drugs.
47:40 - She's trying to stay away from Jake and her mother. And now Terry is leaving...?
48:26 - Commence make-out, snorkeling, walking on the beach, and sex montage. It's like The Thornbirds all over again. Just don't leave her for the priesthood, Terry!
50:40 - Goofy dancing to a mariachi band and wow, white linen dress in water.
52:30 - Expository character development about Terry getting into debt and betting on stuff with Jake. Awfsome.
55:00 - "I wished I had seen you play football." And teary-eyed kisses.
56:35 - Where's the money coming from?? Was Jake lying about the stolen money? Suspense.
58:05 - There is so much tongue in this movie.
58:53 - Khaki pants at the Mayan ruins. Modern parallels between an ancient game and football!
1:00:00 - Um, apparently it was Jake's money.
1:01:00 - Declaration of love. Rejection. Vulnerability. Trust issues. "I'm not anyone."
1:01:40 - Love reciprocated. More tongue. They are both extraordinarily tan making love in the Mayan ruins. Also, voyeurism from some dude named Sully.
1:04:10 - Oh boy. Jake sent him! Sully could have been head coach.
1:05:35 - GUN.
1:06:43 - FIGHT.
1:07:50 - Jessie shot Sully. Oh geez. He's not dead yet; Jessie wants to run, Terry wants to save his life. And he's dead. And Jessie's gone. And that blood looks like tempera paint.
1:09:24 - Worst soundtrack ever. It's like it's on "metallic water droplet" mode.
1:10:30 - Throwing the body in some water. That'll work out good.
1:11:30 - Back in the states. And there's the beach volleyball again. Oh, hey Jake in a tank top and short shorts. And he just bounced the ball off some little mulleted girl's head.
1:13:10 - Jake says Sully's gone and asks about the job. Terry bullshits him about not finding her. "It's not that easy, Terry." This really is noir.
1:14:00 - Here's Terry! I guess she's with Jake again, but she doesn't look to happy about. And Terry's pissed and won't watch football with Jake.
1:15:30 - Awkward moment with Terry and Jessie. Jessie is incapable to take care of herself and needs someone to take care of everything for her. Also, the composer found the drums mode on the synthesizer. Things ended badly.
1:16:45 - Stevie Nicks is on the soundtrack.
1:17:31 - Terry refuses Jake's handshake at Jake's shindig of sorts. Jessie was too upset to show up. SKETCH.
1:18:17 - Please tell me the big hair part of the 80s doesn't come back in along with everything else because I don't think I can get my hair that big.
1:19:00 - Sleazy lawyer is back. Jake introduces a band called Kid Creole and the Coconuts. This is by far the best part of this movie. The lead singer is like a cross between Little Richard and Prince and the back up dancers are wearing two-piece metallic outfits and refuse to shave their armpits. I don't understand their statement.
1:21:30 - Some sort of heated discussion is taking place behind the scenes.
1:22:52 - Sully was tipping off Jake about injuries that could affect games.
1:23:53 - Jake is blackmailing Terry. Tommy (the guy who looms in shadows?) is to remain clean. "What made you think you could handle Jessie?" Friend break-up final.
1:25:00 - Lawyer's doing coke in the bathroom. Yes.
1:26:50 - Terry confronts Jessie and aggressively kisses her...and it's become consensual. And then violent again.
1:28:00 - Terry is demanding Jessie rips his shirt off. She yells. They're hugging. What just happened?
1:29:00 - Piano and metallic water droplets. Jake is doing a terrible job of winning Jessie back. "You know when you came at me with a knife..." I think they're breaking up.
1:30:35 - "You ruined my life. Damnit, I'm not going to lose you." I don't know if that's working, Jake.
1:31:10 - Terry is running on the field again. Soundbites of Jake's voice.
1:32:00 - How does the soundtrack keep getting worse? Nasty electric guitar solo. Is this supposed to be atonal? P.S. Terry's breaking into an office.
1:34:55 - Someone know he was going to be in that file!
1:35:30 - Dead lawyer? Are you trying to mop it up? Cop? But it wasn't your fault! Why are you fighting him? Against all odds indeed. You keep making things worse, idiot.
1:36:50 - Is this Peter Gabriel? Office assistant is back and is hysterical about the death a little bit.
1:39:10 - Cop and a dog trying to threaten the office assistant. They're looking for the body Terry hid.
1:40:35 - The tension is bearable.
1:42:50 - Terry is a kick fighter as he saves the office assistant. She gets a letter opener to get in one of the fake security guard's hands
1:44:45 - Blah blah blah, Jessie is explaining everything to some old man who keeps showing up. Jake and Tommy are yelling about something. Those two groups gets together an have heated discussion. "You've gotten out of hand, Jake."
1:45:50 - Old man is secretly working for Jake. OH NOES.
1:47:08 - Terry gets a leg up on Jake, the old man, and the gang. "Wyler Canyon in an hour." Awwww, it's going down tonight!
1:48: 30 - "I get things done in this town" should have been followed up with "tonight! on Unsolved Mysteries."
1:49:10 - Tommy points a gun at Jake. Racial issues! And the guitar is back. AAAGH.
1:50:08 - Terry's car, but no Phil Collins song yet.
1:51:00 - Another gun is pulled out. All Terry wants is Jake out of his life and then yells, "Because you're a corrupt old man." ATTACK from Terry.
1:52:00 - Dramatic reaction shots. Jake gets desperate. Of course Jessie's got a gun to her head.
1:53:30 - Music update: it's still terrible.
1:54: 15 - Declaration of love, JESSIE SHOOTS THE GUN and kills Jake.
1:55:01 - Old man can help, but only i he works by his rules. Jessie wants him to leave Terry alone. Cut to a sunny day.
1:56:40 - Terry and Old man chat. I guess Terry's not allowed to see Jessie except from the distance of a groundbreaking ceremony.
1:57:34 - Looks like Terry's going to play for the Dolphins. Redemptive, but he can't have Jessie yet since she's on such a tight leash.
1:58:12 - MY SONG!!!!!!! And roll credits.
1:59:00 - No really, they're just showing Jessie at a distance crying in Terry's general direction.
1:59:20 - Freeze frame on Jessie. Man, this song is the best part of the movie (besides the other musical number).
2:01:00 - They kept the freeze frame up the whole credits. THE END.


Medley of the Day: Sun worship

It's sunny in the Pacific Northwest today, which means it is both gorgeous and not raining. In celebration, have a medley.

First up, Local Natives give us chant-filled ode to the sun, "Sun Hands" (2009).

Also, does the lead singer looks like a more adorable version of mustachioed Freddie Mercury, or am I just obsessed with Freddie Mercury and mustaches?

More hipster pagan-rhythms, you say? Here's Yeasayer's "Sunrise" (2008):

Good to see David Byrne's dance moves live on.

But what if you want a made up, pseudo-Romance language to describe your love of the sun? "Sun King" from The Beatles' Abbey Road (1969):

Sounds like someone learned Iberian Spanish!

Go outside already.


The Iron Man franchise

is completely on the inherent charisma of its actors. RDJ is always magic, Mickey Rourke was appropriately grizzled, and Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow were reliably spot on in their character's reactions to Tony Stark. Even Sam Rockwell made the not-quite-as-awesome-as-Tony-Stark Justin Hammer so interesting, I almost liked him, even at his whiniest.

Also, fabulous 3-piece suits.

My one complaint: Scarlett Johansson. She lacks an on-screen present needed to meet the enormity of her castmates' presence and the film's genre. Frankly, she does better in small films that focus on reigned in performances, and that's fine. Really, her casting is another example of Hollywood giving undeserving young actresses roles that they can't live up to. I like to think of it as Winona Ryder Syndrome. She was great in quirky and spunky roles with modern sensibilities (I even include Little Women here), but faded into the background in the big-name directed and big-presence acted Dracula and The Age of Innocence.

Really, where are all the fun actresses with lots of personality and presence? Why does Hollywood always rely on young talent that doesn't necessarily bring the goods, acting-wise?


You're the Best

I'm mildly obsessed with Joe Esposito's hit song "You're the Best Around," the theme song from The Karate Kid (1984). It's just so damn catchy:

And then I thought I would never love the song more than when used for a working-out-and-taking-steroids montage on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (lame YouTube pulled that sweet clip).

But then I saw its best usage yet: The King on Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007). The fantastic documentary perfectly sets up the reigning champion of the original Donkey Kong, Billy Mitchell, against an up-and-comer who's always been short of greatness his whole life, Steve Wiebe. The immersion into the gaming world is surprisingly engaging, and you ultimately root for the underdog, even if he doesn't have a head of glorious locks. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up.

Anyway, the moment in the documentary when this song started playing, I knew this was one of the greatest films I had ever seen. In dedication to this great work, I embed somebody's Steve Wiebe fan video with the classic song itself:

Seriously. Awesome.


Everyone covers Dylan: "Tangled Up in Blue"

Inspired by Cubism, "Tangled Up in Blue" attempts to defy time and to bring multiple perspectives into one song. All I know is that it paints a lovely picture. It was released as a single on the 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks.

1974 performance in which Bob Dylan has a case of cocaine face:

No really, what's on his face?

The Indigo Girls from their live album, 1200 Curfews (1995). I love how the words sound coming from women:

Sorry it cuts off early. It's lovely.

More lady singer action with KT Tunstall. Love her voice:

I wish I liked her original work as much as I like her covers.

Great White (yes, that Great White) tangled up on their 2002 cover album, Recover. Surprisingly mellow:

Shark attack?

The Jerry Garcia Band in 1990. It's pretty long, but it's a good cover:

Who knew I'd liked Jerry Garcia?


Musical Addition

Chris and Thomas' "Don't Hang Your Heart" (2006):

+ Radiohead's "Subterranean Homesick Alien" (1997):

= Genesis' "Harlequin" (1971):


In which I talk about The Thorn Birds

I read The Thorn Birds my junior year of high school in a Vicodin-addled fit of AP test studying procrastination*. Needless to say, I loved the forbidden romance between a priest and the woman he helped raise. In the outback of Australia. In the early 20th Century. Truth, my favorite part of the book was the last part with the cast-off daughter Justine and her German lover, but you can't beat a good star-crossed romance. Especially when it's turned into an epically awfsome miniseries.

Now, I bought the miniseries about 5 years ago and have only made it all the way through once. Today, my roommate was watching disc 2, and I remembered why it was so great:

Does it blow anyone else's mind that Richard Chamberlain is almost 50 here? Seriously.

Right? RIGHT? Just when you couldn't get any campier, it DOES. And boy, does that barn see a lot of action.

*Passed 'em all, suckers.