Thursday, September 30, 2010

John Barry

Well all this thinking about Harry Nilsson got me thinking about how great Midnight Cowboy is, which got me thinking about how great John Barry's music for said film is, which got me thinking about the track Fun City in particular and how fucking amazing it is.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Harry Nilsson

I've just been thinking about how fucking happy I am that the Harry Nilsson documentary Who's Harry Nilsson and Why is Everyone Talkin' About Him is finally seeing the light of day.

here's to you Harry:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gideon's Essential Scenes 1

I'm no know-it-all, but I would say that most casual observers love Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for three reasons:
1) Clint Eastwood's iconic performance as The man with No Name,
2) Ennio Morricone's thrilling main theme, and
3) the riveting show-down at the end.

Yeah, three of the same reasons I love it too...for the first few viewings, but I have spent a lot of years with this film and came to realization that, for me anyways, the three greatest things about this film are:
1) Eli Wallach's amazing performance as Tuco,
2) Ennio Morricone's unmatched theme The Ecstacy of Gold, and
3) The scene in the graveyard where #'s 1 and 2 come together.

This scene delights me, thrills me, and brings those goosebumps to my flesh every time I watch it. So this is the first entry in what I hope becomes an ongoing piece in this blog: Gideon's Essential Scene. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Books I read August 2010

Well, August means a return to the classroom for me, and therefore much less time at my disposal to fuel my reading obsession for the next 10 months. So be it. I am still able to find some, though seemingly always diminishing, time to myself. The month of August 2010 will go down as one of the poorest in recent memory, as none of the books I read this month were that great. Though I must say that as I refocus my energies into my job it is hard at times to completely engage with my reading material, but be that as it may here's what I read.

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling-The Difference Engine
Co-authors Gibson, of whose books I never miss, and Sterling, of whose books I've read one other, imagine a world in which Charles Babbage actually created his Difference Engine, a sort of steam-driven, monstrous computer. This advance has placed England on even a larger pedestal then the one they actually occupied, their machinations are felt the world over, particularly in the United States where there is not one united nation but four: the northern states, the southern states, and the republics of California and Texas, and scientists occupy the highest strata in society.
Gibson and Sterling cleverly constructed a world featuring real people in, obviously altered roles from the one they played in our timeline. Charles Babbage, Sam Houston, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Byron, and even Percy Bysshe Shelley as a staunch Luddite, are all featured.
The plot is fairly convoluted and would require more typing that I want to do, but I did enjoy this book. In fact now that I am writing about it I realize I actually like it better than I thought at first. This book had the misfortune of sitting on my shelf for years and then being the first book I read upon the resumption of the school year.

Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon-Preacher Vol. 7 Salvation
This installment of the 9 volume series is actually quite tame compared to its predecessors. I get the feeling it sort of serves as an interlude before the series begins to be wrapped up in the final two volumes. A good read as far as comics go, but seriously lacking the punch that made the earlier installments so much fun.

Dashiell Hammett-The Glass Key
I have now read all of Hammett's novels and I'm disappointed that it seems, in my opinion, I saved the worst for last. All of Hammett's other novels I have supremely enjoyed in one degree or another, but there was something in this tale of big-city corruption, gangland warfare, and murder mystery that did not work for me. I found the protagonist largely unsympathetic and many of his actions and interactions with the other characters contrived and illogical.
Apparently this was Hammett's favorite, so what the hell do I know.

Joe Pernice-The Smiths Meat is Murder 33 1/3 series
If you consider yourself a music fan and you are not all over this series of books from Continuum publishers I seriously question your devotion. Obviously I will never read all of these because, frankly, I don't give a damn for some of the albums covered in the series.
Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers here tackles the greatest album by one of the greatest bands of the 80's. Unfortunately Pernice's approach here is not usually what I look for in rock journalism. In fact this is not journalism at all, but a short story about a teenaged boy, Pernice perhaps?, dealing with all the shit we all go through as a teenager. He just happens to love The Smiths.
Even though I didn't love this, it exemplifies what is so cool about this series. You never know what you're going to get. Whether it is a song by song analysis of an album, a social commentary on the influences and impact of a given work, or like here, and in John Darnielle's entry for the series on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality, simply fiction, you're getting a fresh and more often than not engaging take on music you love.

Ward Moore-Greener than you Think
In the 80's Crown Books re-issued 10 forgotten sci-fi books from years gone by. I have now read them all and this book was excruciating. It was an absolute slog to get through. It actually starts out pretty good, although the premise is way out there. A scientist has developed a chemical to help plants grow, and hires a salesman to sell it to farmers. The salesman says screw the farmers, look at all the dead lawns here in the city, sprays it on some Bermuda grass, and look out! the world gets overrun by Grass! I can't go on....sorry