Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Classic Pick:-->Tracy Chapman - Where You Live (2005)

"Good girls walk fast
In groups of three.
Fast girls walk slow
On side streets.
Sometimes the girls who walk alone
Aren´t found for days or weeks."
Tracy Chapman
When I saw the wonderfully humble and sensitive Tracy Chapman perform "Change" from her then new release, "Where You Live" on one of the late night talk shows a couple of years ago...I was blown away. And so was the audience. She was that good. And I went and bought her CD the next day. I thought it would be huge for her. Unfortunately, that didn't exactly happen.

Tracy Chapman had finally released some new material and I nice it would be to hear her distinctive voice on the airwaves again. But thanks to the commercial radio stations spoon-feeding us cookie cutter musical drivel...Tracy Chapman and this excellent release was simply pushed aside. Too bad...because this CD is loaded with good stuff.

“Where You Live” (Electra/2005) is Chapman’s seventh studio album and is filled with 11 story songs, honestly offered and delivered in her wonderfully smoky trademark voice. Thankfully, Chapman pulls no punches giving the listener "cause to pause" while enjoying her stories.

Tracy Chapman has never been accused of avoiding difficult subjects and she hits the right note most of the time on this record. Opening with my favorite track, “Change”, TC questions the choices we make. “If you knew that you would die today / If you saw the face of God and love/ Would you change?“

And on “3,000 Miles”, we are reminded that not all people feel sheltered as she sings, Forget trying to live and be happy / I’ll take safe and terror free”. This fantastic song has a refrain I found hard to get out of my head.

Chapman sings, “I’ve been a lot of things/ But never yours” (“Never Yours“), a gentle song of resignation with a bite to the lyrics. “Talk To You” is a strong cry of desperation and is sung with a true sadness in TC’s voice.

Another well-done track is the obligatory political number, “America”, in which she takes a shot at our leaders with a driving beat and catchy hook. “The meek won‘t survive/Or inherit the earth/Cause you‘re still conquering America“. Finally, “Taken”, with its terrific chorus, is a treasure.

(Side note: Flea/bass player from Red Hot Chili Peppers appears on 3 tracks. Go figure).

"Where You Live" is the best collection of songs Tracy Chapman has recorded since her self-titled debut in 1988. This CD would make a welcome addition to anyone's musical collection. And the perfect place to fall in love with Tracy Chapman.
(1st appear. Vantage/Newman U.)


Tracy Chapman-->"3,000 Miles" off Where You Live (2005)
(Must Own)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Book Buzz:-->"The Ice Harvest" by Scott Phillips (2000)

"We lived in a time and a world of our own.
Making up the rules as we went along.
Just one coat between us and we never felt cold.
We were never gonna get old.

It's been a long time since we laughed together.
It's been a long time since we cried.
Raise your glass for the comrades we've lost...
My friend it's been a long, long time."
Southside Johnny
"The Ice Harvest" is a short 217 page novel written by Scott Phillips that takes you on a journey from the last hours of a lonely, violent Christmas Eve...on into the early morning holiday through the eyes of anti-hero Charlie Arglist.

In the style of a slimy classic noir, it is 1979...Wichita, KS...with a freezing snowstorm growing increasingly worse as the night rolls on. It is here we meet our main character, Charlie, a lawyer who has been helping the mob skim a little extra into their kitty from titty-bars owned through out the city.

Ol' Charlie has been planning to skim some beaucoup cashola for himself by ripping off the mob...Christmas Eve...and then quickly disappear into the jingle-bell night. And the time has finally arrived.

Scott Phillips introduces one loser after another in this terrific crime thriller. Filled with unexpected sex that no one seems to be enjoying...and unexpected violence that appears to give more pleasure than the sex, our anti-hero Charlie tries to head off one double-cross after another. One would almost think that any chance for a chuckle here or there would be out of place...But Phillips does like to throw a little macabre jocularity at the reader.

Over-all this fast read is a great trip to take. Good stuff!


AM, Then FM posted some info about Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes the other day...which reminded me of how I came to love them.

I stumbled upon a Southside Johnny CD buried amongst other $1.99 offerings in a wire caged basket customers could wade through in a Superstore while killing time. It was there I picked up "Better Days" and took it home. Small risk, I thought, and besides it wasn't as if I'd never heard of him.

Funny, I buy CDs all the time...but every once in a great while, I find a diamond among the chunks of CD coal. This Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes release is a diamond. A true joy. I play it all the time because the music gives me the same pleasure and freedom I get from a Thin Lizzy song. Totally different sound, mind you...but the emotional energy is dead on!

While "YouTubing" the other night I searched for some Southside Johnny and that's when I found it. My favorite song captured on YouTube.

Watching Southside do this song on stage with some long time Jersey friends is awesome. Good vibes are shared on stage...and we are graciously allowed to be a part of the celebration. Check this video out. It will leave you with a smile.


Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes:-->"It's Been A Long Time" off Better Days (1991) (Own This CD)

Friday, May 25, 2007

DVD Pick:-->What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

"Can I have your autograph?
he said to the fat blond actress
You know, I know everything you've done
Anyway, I hate divorces
To the left is a marble shower
It was fun even for an hour, but
You're over the hill right now, and you're looking for love."
Velvet Underground

Dir. Robert Aldrich's deliciously dark "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" (1962) is a sleazy exercise in sibling jealousy, (and we're not talking Jan and Marcia).

Baby Jane (Bette Davis) and Blanche (Joan Crawford) are show business sisters. (The former being a vaudeville child star, and the latter being a box office success in adulthood.) There have rarely been two bigger female divas in the same movie, as you'll find here...but let there be no mistake...this is Bette's tour de force and she is unequivocally taking no prisoners. In fact, when she is on the screen, we hardly pay attention to anyone else. Bette Davis creates an unforgettable, unlikable, and surprisingly somewhat sympathetic character in this film.

Having said that, Joan Crawford holds her own pretty well. Being confined to a wheelchair in this film, Crawford must do her acting from the shoulders up and she pulls off some pretty wicked expressions of her own.

In a nutshell, broke and unemployed Baby Jane must take care of her wheelchair bound sister, Blanche, in exchange for her own room and board. Out of necessity...and out of guilt. Baby Jane's actions become more and more erratic and violent, causing Blanche concern for her own welfare.

Victor Buono (who many of you may remember as the villain King Tut from the '60s "Batman" series) was nominated for best supporting actor as the fumbly-bumbly mama's boy, Edwin Flagg. The bantering between Buono and Davis (each with their own agendas) is priceless. And appears as if a little ad-lib was thrown into the mix.

It is well known that while making this film, Davis and Crawford were bitching and feuding pretty hard with each other. Each despising the other with equal venom. Knowing this going in makes for some tasty green eyed monster soup.
Davis & Crawford
There is a simple unpretentious line that Davis delivers to her co-star, Crawford near the end of the film. "All this time we could have been friends."

And though she might not have meant those words in real life...she speaks them in this film with such sadness and sweetness and (now here's the hard part) acceptance. A lesser actor would not have been able to pull it off. Good stuff! And I'll not soon forget it.

Davis received her final Academy Award nomination for this role.

Watch the pleasure 'Baby Jane" derives from the creative entrees she serves up for her sister Blanche.

Also, there is a terrific scene shot from the ceiling might otherwise overlook...when the camera captures sister Blanche having a private level 10 panic attack in her wheelchair. This rings true and props to Crawford for selling it.


Velvet Underground:-->"New Age" off Loaded (1970)
(Own This CD)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ramblings:-->ShamRock Lounge Shuffleboard & Low Red Land

"I don't remember how I got this way.
I don't recall what happened yesterday.
I don't remember what I did last night.
But I know I was feelin' all right."
Edgar Winter Group
Last summer I was introduced to an entertaining game provided by the The ShamRock Lounge at 1724 W. Douglas in Wichita, KS and it has since become a ritual of mine for loosening up the stress belt of college life.

Along with sharing a pitcher or two of some good-ol’-what-ever-it-is, this centuries-old game, Shuffleboard, has proven to be deceivingly simple to play and beautifully designed. But unfortunately, time has not been kind to this game and it has been mostly relegated to a barroom footnote.
Vintage Shuffleboard at Shamrock
Shuffleboard, (for those not initiated), is played on a long narrow polished wooden table and originated in England during the 16th century. It soon became very, very popular. So much so, necessary chores became dreadfully abandoned, causing town leaders to ban the trendy game just so people would start getting their work done. Indeed, even William Shakespeare makes mention of this Shuffleboard diversion in his works.

We, of the United States persuasion, got our first taste of Shuffleboard sometime around the Civil War, and it experienced a steady progression in popularity up until the time of Prohibition.
After WW II, Shuffleboard began to experience its greatest growth.

Taverns were providing one or more tables for their customers with leagues and tournaments being run regularly. And the beer joints didn’t have dibs on this great game, either. It was not unusual to find a Shuffleboard table set up in hospitals and fraternal meeting places. Even youth groups were provided with the opportunity to play.

The unfortunate demise of Shuffleboard seems to have occurred when the endless variety of electronic games became the entertainment of choice in the early ‘80s. Soon, finding a tavern that offered this offbeat game was harder than finding someone who would admit owning the entire catalog of Culture Club. And sadly, Shuffleboard became nothing more than a game our fathers used to play.

Fortunately, The ShamRock Lounge (and a hand-full of other spots around town) offers a beautiful table on which to hone your skills.

Everything about this game feels right.
The wooden tabletop shines and is lightly dusted with friction sand to make the metal discs glide smoothly as if moving in slow motion.
The round metal discs have a nice weight to them and feel cool to the touch.
The unique clicking sound the discs make when bumping into each other is strangely music to the ear. And the basic rule of the game is uncomplicated. Send your disc gliding closest to the other end of the table without it falling off the edge and you score.
Believe me, this is easier said than done.

All the nuances of this grand game provide (for me, anyway) a gentle, calming blanket against the oft-times unfair velocity life forces us to travel. For now, playing Shuffleboard takes me back to what certainly was a slower era, and I can almost feel myself journeying in time, rubbing shoulders with my ancestors as I send another metal disc gliding slowly toward the edge of the table. “Whose turn is it to buy the next pitcher? And are we blue or red?”

Indie Introduction:

Low Red Land

There is something refreshingly real about this San Francisco band...Low Red Land...that borders on dangerous. With biting Southern tang mixed with some rural can almost imagine Steve Earle fronting for My Morning Jacket.

In fact, this three man forest fire (Ben Thorne, Neil Thompson, Mark DeVito) oft-times drifts into deliciously strange jams only to bring it all together with well-written lyrics delivered in Low Red Land style. Check these lyrics!
"There are people who hit so hard you lose your sense of fear,
But you won't be spitting blood all by yourself."
(Dreams That Heroes Dream)
That's a bad-ass line.
And they seem to have many interesting ideas that fortunately will keep this band from becoming accursed as a one-note wonder. They offer mp3 samples here.
Low Red Land is real, indeed. Good Stuff!
Low Red Land:-->"Elijah's Church" off Weight Of Nations <--(Their 1st CD).
Well...That's my Indie Intro this week. Throw a little support their way.

Edgar Winter Group:-->"We All Had A Real Good Time" off
They Only Come Out At Night (1972) (Own This CD)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Classic Pick:-->XTC - Apple Venus Vol. 1 (1999)

"Let's reveal our childlike nature.
And leave our stocks and invoices to rot.
Let's go to pot."

Sometimes I wrongly ignore a band simply because of their name. That’s ridiculous, I know. However, when the name of a band gets under my skin, I just can’t work with them.

XTC isn’t the only band I’ve skipped for the longest time. The band, Jesus and Mary Chain, took awhile for me to get on-board. System Of A Down comes to mind quickly. Whatever. Eventually, I do get around to giving the irksome named band a listen and occasionally, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

With this in mind, allow me to introduce you to a very underrated album. A 1999 release of “Apple Venus Vol. 1” by the unfortunate named band from Swindon, England…XTC.

The regrettable title may give the consumer the impression that this album is an accumulation of leftover tracks and B-sides that perhaps were not strong enough to make it on one of the earlier albums. This could not be further from the truth. Until this offering from XTC, it had been 7 years since they were in the studio, allowing the band primo time to write and arrange this classic collection of songs.

XTC, now basically a two man band made up of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, have had label problems ever since the band stopped touring due to founding member, Partridge, suffering from severe bouts of stage fright and battling some other mental issues. The only upside to this dilemma is Partridge, a well-known genius in the studio and free from the burden of touring, spent hours creating some of the most melodic and breathtaking work ever.
Apple Venus Vol. 1 is filled with mostly orchestral strings, acoustic guitar, trippy horns and multi-layered vocals and it is gorgeous.

Leading off the album is the highly ambitious track, “River of Orchids” which is a spout against automobiles. “I want to see a river of orchids where we had a motorway. Push your car from the road”. The song begins with single drops of rain and gradually builds to what sounds like traffic done with strings and horns.

“If we'd all breathe in and blow away the smoke. New life.” (Easter Theatre), celebrates Easter (the Goddess not the holiday) with a sound that easily could have been a leftover from “Sgt. Pepper…” and just one of many highlights from the album.

“What was best of all was the longing look you gave me. That longing look across the hymnbooks and the canvas chairs”. (Harvest Festival) is Partridge reminiscing about a school moment early in his youth.

“Green Man” is a great song with a Renaissance/Mid-Eastern funky feel that has Partridge and Moulding adding different melodies over each other that works surprisingly well.

Partridge and Moulding have often been compared to Lennon and McCartney with Partridge being the more acerbic, ala John, while Moulding being more lightweight, ala Paul.
XTC Partridge & Moulding
With that in mind...Partridge lays down a wonderfully bitter paean to his ex, reminiscent of “Working Class Hero”, filled with a few profanities that he smartly avoids speaking on “Your Dictionary”. Very Clever.

Moulding, on the other hand, is a little less complicated. On the track “Frivolous Tonight”, he wants to enjoy some small-talk while avoiding any business blather, as he sings “Let's reveal our childlike nature. And leave our stocks and invoices to rot. Let's go to pot.” This song is easily my newest guilty pleasure.

“And when I say I can't own her, I don't mean to buy her. It's nothing at all to do with money. I simply want her in my arms”. (I Can’t Own Her) is an opulent ballad filled with great lyrics and is quite beautiful. As for the rest, one senses that tremendous care was given to each song and there are no throwaways.

For an album that only made it to #106 on the Billboard album chart, Apple Venus Vol. 1 is a great piece of work. My only regret is that I will never experience hearing this CD for the first time again. However, since this is a CD that gets better with each new listen…my babies...I’m already way ahead of you.


XTC-->"Frivolous Tonight" off Apple Venus Vol. 1 (1999)
(Must Own)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Book Buzz:-->"The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara (1974)

"Time will pass away,
Time will guard our secret.
I'll return again
To fight another day."
Wishbone Ash


"The Killer Angels" Michael Shaara is just one of thousands of books dealing with the Civil War...but many consider this offering one of the best.

Revolving around the four horrific days of the Gettysburg Battle...Shaara gives the reader an unbiased view of the motivations and decisions made by several major characters when confronting one problem after another during this bloody time.

For those who enjoy the chess game of tactical maneuvering during a battle will not be disappointed. As for me, it was the young soldiers involved having to deal with the weather and the scarcity of food that I found most wrenching. The courage many of them showed and the fear most of them felt.. And above all...not forgetting the continuous butchery of human lives because of orders given during the Civil War.

Shaara handles the battle scenes awesomely by changing the perspective after each chapter...allowing us to see the many challenges faced on either side...but also keeping the "time" in the now. Good stuff!

Not only does Shaara satisfy the hunger of history buffs...but delivers heart-pounding battle-scene action for the adventure reader.
352 pages. Highly recommended.


Wishbone Ash-->"Warrior" off Argus (1972) (Own This CD)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

DVD Pick:-->"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)

"You know I'll never sleep no more.
It seem to me that it just ain't wise
Didja ever wake up in the mornin'
With a ZOMBY WOOF behind your eyes?"
Frank Zappa
If you're one of those who are quick to dismiss this flick as being just one of several Abbott and Costello throwaways...then you would be missing out on some classic, primo monster movie magic. Filled with chills and thrills, "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) holds up better than most monster films from that era.

Director Charles T. Barton's "A and C Meet Frankenstein" was marketed as a comedy exercise starring 40's "rage of the age" duo...Abbott & Costello, and surprisingly, became one of the biggest money making movies of the decade.

But if you rent this expecting slap your leg...laugh-a-minute might be disappointed. Don't get me wrong...there are a few good chucks throughout. Their bantering back and forth about women is especially amusing. But let there be no doubt about it.... this is a Monster movie! Point and fact. And pretty good stuff, too!

This unexpected box office hit throws Frankenstein at us, of course (played by the often forgotten Glenn Strange who succeeded Boris Karloff). But we are also treated to some tasty Dracula action (played by the always over-the-top Bela Lugosi),...And legendary Lon Chaney Jr. gets to do a little "Werewolves of London" reviving his trademark Wolf Man role. ("I'm a bit of a wolf, myself.")
Lon Chaney, Jr.
Best of all, these actors are obviously having a lot of fun in their monster roles and are playing their parts for real and not for laughs. That's what makes this picture work! That's why this movie kicks some haunted house butt.

Had these roles been played for camp, it would have taken away all the chills and charm created by these legends. Dir. Barton got it exactly right.

To give any more away, other than saying Bud and Lou meet up with these monsters would be spoiling your fun. Suffice it to say...MAYHEM ENSUES!

Watch for Vincent Price to make a surprise cameo appearance. But don't ask me to point him out...he is just a little bit hard to see.


Frank Zappa-->"Zomby Woof" off Over-Nite Sensation (1973)
(Own This CD)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Book Buzz:-->Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)

"Well I made my first kill with the old town girl
She was the apple of her daddy's eye.
Well that woman looked up at me
And I said honey we'll be
Together 'til the day I die...But I lied."
Sci-fi is not a genre I visit too often on my lifetime journey for the next book I am hardly qualified to give a rating of this novel to any sci-fi feeders out there. However, I am qualified to recommend any book that satisfies my passion for interesting reads. And this story certainly fills the bill.

"Ender's Game", by Orson Scott Card, started out as a magazine short story in 1977. Positive feedback led to Card fleshing his story out a bit and finally, in 1985, releasing "Ender's Game" as a legitimate novel.

The story takes place in a time on future Earth when 2 babies are the limit for parents. The government also has dibs on any young ones showing exceptional talents and are quickly taken and forced into difficult training situations in hopes of creating a premier military fighting army made up of children.

The young boy, Ender Wiggin, is just such a kid. (And is one of the more honest characters I've encountered in fiction). At the age of six, he is whisked away from his family and we learn what happens through his eyes.

The reader will also be caught off guard with the way Orson Scott Card chooses to wrap up his classic story.

This is a quick read, but I encourage everyone to take their time...suspend their belief...and enjoy this 357 page award winning novel (Nebula Award & Hugo Award).


Nazareth:-->"Bad,Bad Boy" off Razamanaz (1973) (Own This CD)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Classic Pick: -->T Rex - The Slider (1972)

"You talk about day...
I'm talking 'bout night time.
When the monsters call out
The names of men."
T Rex
Because of a Coke commercial I saw running recently, I noticed it was sampling a song made famous by T. Rex entitled “The Slider” from the album of the same name. Digging around through my household community jukebox, I found the album and gave the entire T. Rex offering a fresh listen

And because of his unique songwriting style, (a cross between Syd Barret and Dr. Seuss), along with the way he sells every word he sings, “The Slider” proves a wickedly pleasant surprise; more enjoyable with each new listen.

Released in 1972, T. Rex (aka Marc Bolan) was sharing his hippie-visions and horn-dog habits over a steady diet of churning guitar rhythms and simple acoustic arrangements providing listeners with arguably his finest album.

Starting with the opening track, “Metal Guru”, we know we are in for a fun ride. “Has it been just like a silver-studded sabre-tooth dream”, cries TR over a pounding electric guitar. He introduces us to the girl who always keeps coming back for more. “You’re talking with your boots and you’re walking with your mouth”. (“Baby Boomerang”)

TR’s lyrics can be odd at times and yet oozes with coolness. For example, “I bought a car. It was old but kind/ I gave it my mind and it disappeared”. (“Spaceball Richochet”) And “I have never kissed a car before. It’s like a door./And when I’m sad…I slide” (The Slider). It’s never knowing what T. Rex is going to say next that draws the listener in.

Every song has a distinctive rhythm that especially compliments his voice.

One of my favorites, “Ballroom of Mars” has a sweet guitar sound in spite of some biting lyrics. “You diamond browed hag/You’re a gutter-gaunt gangster/John Lennon knows your name/And I’ve seen his”. The fact that he drops names in this song makes it even sweeter.
T Rex jammin'.
The closing track, “Main Man”, has a feel good mid-tempo chant that will have the listener singing along as the words gently fade into the speakers. When the album was over, I realized I might not have understood all he had to say …But TR made me believe every word.

Sadly, in the early morning of September 16, 1977, Marc Bolan was riding with his girlfriend who lost control and ran their car into a very old oak tree seriously injuring herself and killing Bolan. He was only 29. And when I’m sad…I slide.


T Rex
:-->"Ballroom Of Mars" off The Slider (1972) (MUST OWN)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ramblings:-->Mieka - Leopold - Ill Lillies & the Newmie Award

"After all this time...
I tell myself that I'm
Not just wasting time.
Oh you know I'm not that way inclined."
Thin Lizzy

Outstanding Work in Overall Acting 2007 Newman U.

Today, I'm taking the moment to hopefully draw some warranted attention to three new artists I've had some time to lend an ear. I encourage everyone to give a listen.

Leopold and his Fiction
This duo out of San Francisco has an awesome sound that rocks Oz!
If you can imagine the Drive-By Truckers smothered in White Stripes moxie with a dash of Robert Plant...Now that's an interesting rock-and roll recipe.
LAHF offer samples of their songs with info and reviews. Good stuff!
Leopold and His Fiction:-->"Go On Have My Way" off LAHF.

Mieka Pauley
...born in Massachusetts and raised in the heat of Florida and the Colorado cold spots. But she has been everywhere...her and her guitar performing at every opportunity.
Writing like a female Jackson Browne, Mieka delivers her lyrics in a warm, likeable voice. And her lyrics...Oz!
"I will not wait for what the world may not create..I 'll take fate day by day." Good stuff!
Mieka Pauley:-->"Fate Day By Day" off Mieka Pauley (Photo by Chris McKay)

Ill Lillies

This band hails from Cleveland and has developed a sound that is reminiscent, to my ears, of the great Arthur Lee band...Love.
With a mixture of pop and acoustical psychedelia ...there is a pleasant familiarity to Ill Lillies sound.
They obviously want to sell as many cds, as possible...but with a fresh admission that all ears may listen for free. They offer many mp3s to sample on their sight and are nearly finished with their follow-up album. Good stuff!
Ill Lillies:-->"Mardelina" off Greatest Hits Vol. 1

Well, that's my introduction to some deserving musicians this week.

With the plethora of indie music that abounds...I encourage all of us...not to we listen to new artists who are doing what many of us only dream about.

As one of my favorite songwriters, Steve Forbert, waxed in a song..."At least the ones you may be putting least got up to have a go!"

Oh yea...I won best acting award 2007 Newman U.
"You like me. You really like me."


Thin Lizzy:-->"Fight Or Fall" off Jailbreak (1976) (Own This CD)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Book Buzz:-->Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry (1997)

"If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow...
Why, oh why can't I?"

The Geezinslaws
Western fiction, perhaps more than any other genre, suffers the most when characters are offered to the reader with nothing more than cardboard descriptions.

But occasionally, I stumble upon a western story that immediately pulls me in and leaves me wondering...measuring how I would have done...had I lived in those days. The kind of novels that make wading through the chaff worthwhile.
Comanche Moon by author (Larry McMurtry) is a 720 page wild west adventure.

Serving as a prequel to the greatest western novel of all times..."Lonesome Dove", McMurtry re-introduces us to the great tag team...Texas Rangers, Gus and Call.

With a small band of rebel Comanche Indians raiding small towns and terrorizing travelers crossing Texas, Gus and Call, (who have become almost mythical heroes in the region), along with a few other Rangers, must quell this problem by orders of their tough-as-nails Captain...who soon turns up missing himself.
Area Comanche Indians roamed
On their journey, McMurtry offers thrilling narrative describing the hardships of every day life mixed with the contrasting beauty of the land.

Make no mistake, Comanche Moon is violent...filled with some brutal torture and extreme cruelty, but it is off-set by an innocence men seemed to share when around women...respect men shared when around the cloth...and an honor men shared when amongst themselves.

Comanche Moon is a "can't put it down" book that captures the spirit of the wild west in a breathtaking manner. Good Stuff!


Geezinslaws:-->"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" off
Blah, Blah, Blah (1997) (Own This CD)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

DVD Pick:-->"The Night Of The Hunter" (1955)

"Once I was a ruler
About twelve inches long.
Three times me made a yardstick
36 inches high.
36 inches high was I.
36 inches high.
l never got over 36 inches high.
Nick Lowe
For those who have only watched "The Night Of The Hunter" (1955) on TV along with the frustrating slew of commercial interruptions owe it to themselves to give this movie another go.

This initially panned classic, directed by Charles Laughton, is a black and white thriller filled with beautiful camera shots and angles that give the viewer an almost surreal feeling throughout the entire film.

In much the same way a really intense dream we may have had about...nothing important...can sometimes imprint its memory into your mind...simply because of its ordinariness...Is exactly the effect Laughton's "The Night Of The Hunter" has on viewers. And the film is not soon forgotten..

This goodie revolves around a couple of young children who are left a slew of money to hide by their soon-to-be-executed father. (The scenes with the children and Robert Mitchum were surprisingly directed by Mitchum because Laughton did NOT like working with children)

Robert Mitchum, in a career defining role, plays the villainous "Hunter". He soon finds out about the do-re-mi and masks his true intent by hiding behind the word of God as a traveling preacher. With the letters LOVE and HATE tattooed on either knuckles, our villain spouts his parables of how good conquers evil at every turn.
Tattooed knuckles

From time to time...I have encountered a person who has such an unusual zeal for the Lord...that I found it...unnerving. Not because of their love of God...but how they chose to convey their enthusiasm. Mitchum understands this and delivers his faith by making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Let me be up front...and this by no means gives anything away...The "Hunter" (Robert Mitchum) is a serial killer. He travels the country preying on widows...taking all their money...and leaving them for dead. Giving props to the Lord for guiding him along the way.

Mitchum plays his character with an almost even-keel emotion (like a barker at a carnival) that when Mitchum does lose it for a truly startles. Good stuff!

This eventually leads to an encounter with a widow lady (played by Lillian Gish) who has a strong faith in God, too. And thus, a proverbial showdown between good and evil finally comes to a head.

The camera work throughout this film is the movie almost a fairytale feel. There are many subtle scenes that stand out...but would sound my poor descriptions. But be assured...the images will stay in your head long after the movie has been returned.

Watch for the outline of Mitchum slowly riding horseback and singing hymns while casting his figure against the distant horizon in his deliberate search for the children. When the boy sees and hears the "Hunter" far causes him to whisper..."Doesn't he ever sleep?" Good stuff!


Nick Lowe-->"36 Inches High" off Pure Pop For Now People (1978) (Own This CD)