Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ramblings: Monkey Business...Perhaps?

"Another bucket of sand
Another wave at the pier
I miss the way that I used
To call the shots around here
Brian Wilson

When reading a short blurb recently about the discovery of chimpanzees making their own weapons for the purpose of hunting…I was sure I’d be hearing much more about this. But it almost appears to have been swept under the rug.

Only humans have been known to make weapons for hunting. And I'm not talking about a chimp picking up a rock and throwing it. Or picking up a piece of tree limb and using it as a club. This is taking "one object" and working it over to make it useful for another purpose. This is an awesome progression! And now, after all this time, another mammal has stepped across the invisible line of invention...with specific intentions.

This is chilling. The ramifications are worthy of late night convo with others who allow for the "what-if" explorations. Conversations that spin deliciously into the early mornings.

For instance...suppose this weapon invention discovery flips an internal switch within this species...or others, that increases their development speed five-fold. Ten-fold, perhaps?
One has to wonder...Why now? Has someone been tampering with the "Prime Directive" to steal a phrase from Captain Picard?

Not much media buzz, as late, about this...and perhaps the implications are nil in effect.
But I can't help wondering..."What Would Mulder Do"...when unsettling discoveries like this are muffled. (1st appear. Vantage/Newman U.)


Brian Wilson-->"Imagination" off Imagination (1998) (BUY)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

DVD PICK: --> Orgy Of The Dead (1965)

"The sun is burning it never changes.
The people look up with nothing in their eyeballs.
They stare at billboards as if for guidance."
Graham Parker

Well gang, I’ve finally done it. Wherever I travel and whoever I may encounter, I will know with confidence that I have done it. I have finally seen the worst movie ever made.

Being a lover of cult movies, I have seen many and have read about most of the must see misfires of the cinema legends. And I am quite aware of director Ed Wood’s "Plan 9 From Outer Space"(1956) holding the title as the best of the worst. However, I’ve seen it and as bad as it is, I found it quite entertaining. At least I was able to see the effort, if not the money put into it. But the movie that I declare as the worst ever made is the 90 minute dreg called, "Orgy of the Dead."

Released in 1965, "Orgy of the Dead" had its work cut out for it from the start as once again our lovable Ed Wood had his fingers in the proverbial pie. Not as a director this time, but as the writer. And without having any previous knowledge about the film, I decided to take it home and give it a taste.

In a nutshell, the poor excuse for a plot is thinner than Nicole Richie. Two travelers are held hostage by the King of Darkness (Criswell) and forced to watch the entertainment demanded by the evil one.

(Criswell became famous for his predictions. His most accurate was predicting John F. Kennedy would not run for a second term because of something that would happen to him November, 1963. That's pretty creepy).

Individual strippers, on the King’s command, dance to macabre themes while the hostages struggle to escape. One strip dancer after another, after another, after another, etc. display their run-of-the-mill talents looking like rejects from Michelle’s Beach House. Don’t get me wrong, most are pretty attractive, but their dancing is lamer than the parking arrangements on the Newman U. campus.

The acting, what little there bad. Lines obviously delivered on a one take basis are hilarious to watch. Whether it is the hostage couple planning their exodus, or the King of Darkness planning their demise, makes it difficult deciding who to pull for. To add even more silliness to this mayhem, from time to time a werewolf and a mummy wander onto the set like a comedy team and has absolutely nothing to do with the story.

To be sure, this movie stinks. But, knowing this going in, one can have a good time pointing out the lameness as well as wondering what they paid the dancing girls for their bizarrely unique efforts and wondering what street they’re working on now.

Don’t go out of your way to find this travesty, but if you stumble upon it blindly, it must be kismet. Take it home and enjoy.

Must See Moment: Watch for the "Mummy" and Werewolf" appearances throughout the film. Makeup keeps falling apart and they both sound and act like they are buzzed.
(1st appear. Vantage/Newman U.)

Casey Chambers

Graham Parker--> "Stupefaction" off The Up Escalator (1980) (BUY)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lost Book Gem:--> "The Magus" by John Fowles...and Dr. Hook

"This is the last morning’
that I drink my coffee standin’ up."
~ Dr. Hook ~


This novel is often found on many readers top ten “desert island” books and after reading this 700 page classic, it is easy to see what attractions this epic bares.

The Magus is one terrific “fuster-cluck” of a story. Easy to get into and leaves the reader a ton of delicious thought-provoking questions to discuss with mates late into the evening over your favorite beverages.

This story, written in 1965 by John Fowles, revolves around a young bored teacher, Nicholas, who answers an ad to teach on a remote Greek Island. He begins exploring the island, comes across a private piece of land owned by a wealthy, eccentric fellow…“The Magus” and begins a friendship.

The young teacher is soon asked to participate in an experimental “game” he is conducting with the other guests on the island.

What ensues is a bevy of fabricated moral tests put to the young man, where choices made are simply entertainment for the old guy. Or maybe not. Staged events and unstaged events make reality and fantasy blur, making Nicholas (and us) doubt his ability to separate the game from the truth.

The mind games Nicholas is subjected to is like driving by a car accident..  You feel awfully bad for the victims…but you can’t look away.

"Last Mornin' - Dr Hook (1972) Sloppy Seconds

This is the last mornin' that I wake up in this dirty city
Looking for the sunshine as the buildings block the skies
This is the last mornin' that I wash in rusty water
Tryin' to shave a face that I don't even recognise

Down the hallway rats are skitterin'
I can smell the garbage rottin'
Hear the children cryin' in an apartment down below
This is the last mornin', that I'm gonna have to listen to it
I'm going home, yeah

This is the last mornin', that I try to breath the heavy air
Fight the crowds, avoid the traffic, watch the world turn grey
This is the last mornin' that I drink my coffee standing up
Smile and speak to strangers who just turn and walk away

This is a tough cold city here
And I'll guess I'll never cut it here
And I'm so tired of tryin' to stand against it all alone
This is the last mornin', that I'm gonna have to fight it
I'm going home, yeah

This is the last mornin' that I wear these greasy overalls
Punch the clock and do just what I'm told to get along
And face the long evenin', layin' close beside my radio
Imaginin' the kisses of the girl that sings the song

Down below the subway's screaming
As I lay here halfway dreaming
Looking at the ceiling, wondering where, the dream went wrong (where, where)
This is the last mornin', that I'm gonna have to think about it
I'm going home

I'm going home
I'm going home
I'm going home

Good stuff

Casey Chambers

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lost Album Gem:--> "Phenomenon" - UFO (1974)

"Oh my, how the times are changed"
~ UFO ~

Whenever the discussion about unjustly forgotten rock albums from the '70s comes would have to mention this offering by UFO..."Phenomenon" (1974).  From beginning to end, this 10 track guitar-laden album, filled with memorable solos and melodic melodies does not fail to disappoint. Not a second of filler is added on this must-own CD.

This album was first purchased by my dad when it was newly released based simply on the "coolness" of the cover. (The band...unknown). My folks' generation apparently took more financial chances on new albums back then.  And from the eclectic collection of music in my Dad's library..."sometimes you struck gold...sometimes you struck mud!"

"It's only just a moment / She's turning paranoid / That's not a situation for a nervous boy." (Doctor Doctor) is on every "best of" collection and rightly so. Ominous soft guitar runs lead up to a thunderous barrage of urgent jamming by the band.

"Doctor Doctor"

Did I forget to mention the guitar spankings are delivered by legendary Michael Schenker? And Phil Moog delivers solid vocals with a touch of cockney spark...and man, they can torch.

"Your teacher looks at me, all his envy growin" (Too Young To Know) opens the album with a cocksure swagger and confidence...served with a pointed tongue-in-cheek.

UFO slows the tempo down without any of the energy suffering. "Chrystal Light" is a song of regret and enlightenment..."Like a fool I hit that road / took my time to see / Life was only foolin' there." Gorgeous guitar slide on the break is a must hear.

"Chrystal Light"

And the achingly beautiful "Time On My Hands"...has Schenker's guitar dangling a thread of resignation like a surrendering carrot.

The bands'..."Ridin' The Storm Out"...anthem is their ass-kicking "Rock Bottom"... a six and a 1/2 minute guitar paddling.  Never less than twice that live.

"Oh My"

Well, I'm struttin' up and down
Tryin' to get my face in town
Wonderin' the hang where
To turn each time around
Look in your mirror just to see my face
Two way time, baby, it's no disgrace
Oh my, oh, how the times have changed
Oh my, oh, how the times have changed

Ladies used to dancin' but I move for real
Lookin' for reaction, something you can feel
When ya dance,
I move and they look me in the eye
Two way time, baby, it's no lie
Oh my, oh, how the times have changed
Oh my, oh, how the times have changed

All of these songs should be classic rock radio staples...but for much of the Midwest...UFO tends to reap little crop.  Too Bad. "Phenomenon" is a tasty bowl of rock-n-roll pudding.  
Must own.

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ramblings: The Rainmaker

"You were standin' and I was thinkin'
Of all the time that I spend hangin' around"
Paul Stanley

We went off the books for the second night, on this, my 4th week of play practice. It felt good and I’m starting to feel the excitement buzzing around all the other actors hitting their marks.

The Rainmaker” is the name of the play we are performing this spring. Written in 1954 by N. Richard Nash, it is about a father and his two sons…ranch hands…who have been worrying about their plain sister and if she’ll ever find a husband. They have also been worrying about the farm as it has been weeks since the last good rain. Hence…the Rainmaker.

The play stars 6 males and 1 female and is a moral comedy. Rainmaker is being directed by one of the states best, Misty Maynard, who owns and has been running her own shows at the Kechi Playhouse in Kechi, Kansas for nearly 25 years. I have a juicy part playing one of the brothers. A lot of interaction and quick conversation. Challenging, but worth it.

To say it has been a stress-twister these last few weeks keeping up with my classes and working on the weekly University newspaper would be an understatement. But it is the kind of complaining that will be worth the stress when we go live with the play. Now that is a sweet rush. The play is March 2nd and 3rd at Newman University.


Paul Stanley -->"Ain't Quite Right" off Paul Stanley (1978) (BUY)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lost Stream Gem:--> "Shadow Of A Doubt" (1943)

"Evil's with me in the morning.
Evil's with me and I can't get away".

~ Steve Miller ~

Directed By Alfred Hitchcock, this delicious mystery revolves around Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) who we learn very early on is being chased. The question is…is he a good guy being chased by bad guys or a bad guy being chased by good guys?

Either way, Uncle Charlie returns to a small town where his sister lives with her family in hopes of hiding out for a spell. Trouble is…Uncle Charlie has a way too nosy niece.

In an entertaining subplot, actors Henry Travers ...(who played Angel 2nd Class Clarence in...“It’s A Wonderful Life”) and a very young Hume Cronyn ...(who was one of the invigorated old guys from “Cocoon”) have a strange running conversation throughout the film about how to commit the perfect murder. It is funny and macabre at the same time.

This 1943 thriller is filled with Alfred’s trademark twists of the camera and although this film is not one of his better known…it will certainly satisfy those in need of an old fashioned nail-bite buzz.

Must see moment: The camera slowly drawing closer to the side of the face of (???) he rambles about how widows being murdered deserve every bad thing that happens to them.

And as the camera closes in on the side of the face, the actor turns and stares directly into the camera as if to say…"I've put my cards on the table…Whatcha gonna do?".

Have you heard this lost gem?
"Evil" - Steve Miller - The Joker (1973)

(Recorded live at the Aquarius Theatre, Boston)
You know
If somebody, somewhere done you wrong
Oh, don't worry about your revenge, no

I said if somebody, somewhere done you wrong
Oh, don't worry about your revenge, no no
'Cause that's when evil
Oh, evil slips on in

Hey, when I first met you baby
You were nothing but a child
When I first met you baby
I used to let you run wild

But somewhere, somehow
Lord, I don't know how
All your goodness
Slipped away

And that's when evil
Evil let it stay
Evil let it stay, yeah

Evil's with me in the morning
Evil's with me and I can't get away, no
But there's gonna come a time
Oh, when somebody else is gonna pay
Gonna pay baby

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Classic Pick: - Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastophe Waitress (2003)

"I said goodbye to someone that I love.
It’s not just me, I tell you it’s the both of us."
Belle & Sebastian

With their quirky, often melancholic, angst driven songs, Belle & Sebastian have gained quite an enthusiastic following from a college crowd who like having their music served via the college and internet radio waves, rather than eating the repetitive drivel offered by our local radio puppets. The smartly subtle lyrics, gently delivered over sad acoustic melodies, was what endeared them to their fans.(Just check out their previous CD recordings, “Tigermilk” and “If Your Feeling Sinister” for a Belle and Sebastian 101).

But with the 2003 release of “Dear Catastrophe Waitress“, B & S do a jaw-dropping 180° turn and create some of the catchiest and down-right cheery, if not eccentric, pop songs ever. And they make this wonderful music without sacrificing one iota of the peculiar song writing that has become their trademark. It truly works!

Taking their name from a TV kid show, Scottish band Belle & Sebastian had previously recorded five albums before meeting up with pop wizard/producer, Trevor Horn. In his hands, Stuart Murdoch (singer-songwriter) and Stuart David (bass player) finally put together the perfect album. Sounding like Squeeze smothered in10cc, the album opens with the band imagining being seduced by the boss. ”I’ve got to change my ways. Dress for business every day. A smart suit and a kipper tie. A big arrow pointing to my fly”. (“Step Inside My Office, Baby”).

“If I could do just one near perfect thing, I’d be happy. They’d write it on my grave or when they scattered my ashes”. (“If She Wants Me”), has a very retro 70’s sound and could easily be mistaken for Todd Rundgren. In the wonderfully confusing song, “Piazza, New York Catcher”, Murdoch sings, “Elope with me Miss Private and we’ll sail around the world. I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl”. This song rhymes like Dylan and sounds like Donovan.

If you hunger for early B & S, “Lord Anthony”, a song about a boy, bullied, was written several years ago and would have been an easy fit on “Sinister”. Belle & Sebastian admit to calling on a higher power singing, “If you find yourself caught in love. Say a prayer to the man above. You should thank him for every day you pass. Thank him for saving your sorry ass.” (“If You Find Yourself Caught In Love”).

Perhaps the best song from the CD is “I’m A Cuckoo” which pays homage to Thin Lizzy, even borrowing, ever so lightly, the riff from “Boys Are Back In Town”, as well as swiping a little of the lingo. (Lizzy fans will understand).

Many longtime followers of Belle & Sebastian believe the band has sold out with this pop offering. I would argue that it is much harder writing cheerful melodies than sad ones. And seeing how the songwriting is as strong as ever, I look at this album as a natural progression and a welcomed one. As Belle & Sebastian sing on this CD, “If I could do just one near perfect thing I’d be happy”.
You just did, guys. (1st appear. Vantage/Newman U.)

Belle & Sebastian -->"If She Wants Me" off Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003) (Must Own)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Book Rock: " Lisey's Story" by Stephen King

"Glad and sorry
Happy or sad
When all is done and spoken
You’re up or I’m down."
~ Faces ~

When Stephen King is good…he’s very, very, good; And when he’s bad…he’s still pretty darn good.  So saying Lisey’s Story (pronounced lee-see) was a waste of time would be a little harsh.

There are great sentences through out and many delicious SK observations...but I just didn't have any care-bear blankets I wanted to wrap around any of his characters. Good ones or bad ones, it didn't matter.  I was reading the story. And enjoying it, surprisingly enough.  But I just couldn't give much of a damn.

‘Lisey’s Story” felt more like a John Irving novel mixed with a touch of the macabre. (And that ain't a bad thing in and of itself).   But I was needing my SK fix and the maestro wasn't delivering.

But hey...what ever King wants to churn, I will gladly throw down my green paper, take it home and read it.  Like I said…even his less than stellar is pretty darn good.

Should you read it?   Of course. 

SK has some pretty interesting takes on the loss of a spouse and the months and years following. The book will carry.

However, long SK fans will understand, when I say…“I need a real SK fix”!

NOTE: On page 383, SK makes reference to Serial Killer BTK out in Wichita…making all of us Kansans so proud!.

Lost Gem:--> "Glad and Sorry" - Faces (1973)

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ramblings: WWF Stars Dropping Like Flies

There's no way out of here, when you come're in for good.”
David Gilmour

When I heard that another of the old World Wrestling Federation (WWF) wrestlers had died, it was one of those…“if ya sneezed, ya missed it” moments. Just a minuscule blurb on the radio recently that Bam Bam Bigelow was found dead in his home of unknown causes and then back to some music. The news was relegated to merely a 20 second sound bite.

But for a youngster growing up in the late 80‘s, Bam Bam was just one of several wrestlers that fed our imaginations with wonder. We watched these giants faithfully every week and never missed a pay-per-view. We would follow the story lines and the growing rivalries between wrestlers, however hokey they might have been and cheer when our guys won and groan when they lost. Growing up with these wrestling legends was just part of being a boy.

So it was with genuine sadness and surprise when I discovered, along with Bam Bam Bigelow, so many other wrestlers from my youth had passed away. Shockingly, most have left this world at much too early an age.

Bam Bam Bigelow, 42, was found dead in his home in Florida of unknown causes.
Big Boss Man - Died from a massive heart attack in 2004 at the age of 42.
Andre the Giant - In 1993, Andre was found dead due to congestive heart failure from a build-up of fluid in the body. He was 46.
British Bulldogs Davey “Boy” Smith - died in 2002 from a heart attack at age 39. His partner, “Dynamite Kid“, had a leg amputated and is now confined to a wheelchair.
‘Ravishing” Ric Rude - Died in 1999 at the age of 40 after suffering heart failure from a possible overdose of steroids.
Miss Elizabeth - In 2003, Elizabeth was pronounced dead at age 42 of an accidental drug overdose.
Earthquake - Died at the age of 42 after a lengthy battle with bladder cancer in 2006
Big John Studd - Died from liver cancer in 1995 at the age of 46.
Mr. Perfect - Found dead in a Florida hotel room in 2003, just before a scheduled wrestling match. Cocaine was the official cause of his death. He was 44.
The Renegade - In 1999, committed suicide by shooting himself. He was 33.
Hercules - Died in his sleep of a heart attack in March of 2004. He was 46.
Junkyard Dog - Died in a car accident in 1998. He was 45.
Dino Bravo - Bravo was murdered in 1993 at age 44. Rumored to be involved in a cigarette smuggling ring run by organized crime. His murder goes unsolved.
Brian Pillman - Died in 1997 at age 35 from heart disease.
Texas Tornado (Kerry Von Erich)
In 1993, Kerry committed suicide. He was 33.
He was the third brother in the Von Erich family to have committed suicide (Mike in 1987 and Chris in David was a possible drug overdose).
Adrian Adonis - Died in a car accident in 1988. He was 34.
Yokozuna - 34, died of heart attack in 2000.
Road Warrior/ Legion of Doom “Hawk” - Died in 2003 at the age of 46 of a heart attack.
Owen Hart - Hart fell to his death in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 23, 1999, during a WWF pay-per-view event. He was 34.

As you can see, we have lost an alarming number of big-name wrestlers from what must be considered a rather elite pool of athletes. But I’m not here to point fingers at the ills of steroids or the intoxication of fame. Or even any X-File theories.

Retired WWF wrestler, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper described it best when he said,
“Each individual wrestler is affected by a sickness…and the amount of the sickness in the wrestler is directly proportional to the manipulation used by the promoter.“(2002).
All I know for certain is that these larger-than-life wrestlers provided countless entertaining hours for me growing up…and now they’re gone. And that’s a hard pill.
(1st appear. Vantage/Newman U.)

David Gilmour -->"There's No Way Out Of Here" off David Gilmour (1978)
(A must own).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Classic Pick: - John Prine - Fair & Square (2005)

"I felt about as welcome
as a Wal-Mart Superstore."
~ John Prine ~

While I was rifling through some CDs at my friendly neighborhood "spin & grin"...I came across an old friend.

There was John Prine walking down a long stretch of road, guitar in hand, on the cover of his latest offering, “Fair & Square.” (2005)

Although Prine has a strong cult following, and is acclaimed by critics, songwriters and fans alike, you would not know it by relying on your local radio stations in Wichita.

That's unfortunate because Prine is one of those rare magical artists who can tap into all of our everyday emotions without making us feel guilty of our shortcomings.

With 14 tracks, “Fair & Square” is loaded with wonderful Prine observations.

 “Old Faithful’s just a fountain compared to the glory of true love...Prine reminds us on the outstanding opening track “Glory of True Love,” ...and he slyly laments...I’d like to drive a Cadillac the color of her long black the rocking “She Is My Everything.”

We also find Prine spinning a yarn about a beaten down husband and his nagging wife, and the clever way in which he escapes.  “My body’s in the room with you just catching hell / But my soul is drinking beer down the road a spell.”  - “The Other Side of Town”.

And JP takes a spot-on social bite at the mean, spiteful people we've all encountered....Jealousy and stupidity don’t equal harmony” - “Some Humans Ain’t Human.”

Lost Gem:-->  “Taking a Walk” a gentle weary acclamation on how problems piling up on our shoulders...sometimes simply leave us only one recourse.

JP also nails one of his best "Prine-isms" ever...this time amusingly throwing Wal-Mart under the bus.  Gold!

Have you heard this gem!

A man came to our house
I believe it was yesterday
I would have invited him in
But I didn't have a lot to say

His anticipation of me opening the door
Outweighed my apprehension 

as it never had before
And drove my concentration
Right through that hardwood floor

I'm taking a walk
I'm going outside
I'm taking a walk
I'm just getting by

There's a girl in the white house
I don't even know her name
Her disheveled appearance
Speaks volumes of shame

It's an embarrassing situation
But a situation just the same
The way she walks on others
And never takes the blame
Upsets my constitution
Beyond its mortal frame

Oo-oo a-ha

I'm taking a walk
I'm going outside
I'm watching the birds
I'm just getting by

Found a card in the pocket
Of my worn out overalls
From a girl in Cedar Rapids
Now residing in Idaho Falls

I wish you could have been there
When she opened up the door
And looked me in the face
Like she never did before
I felt about as welcome
As a Wal-Mart Superstore

0o-oo - a-ha

I'm taking a walk
I'm going outside
I'm taking a walk
I don't need a ride

I'm watching the birds
Flying so high

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers