Friday, March 20, 2009

Culture Roundup

Well, if you like movies at all and live within forty miles of Minneapolis, you owe it to yourself to go to The Heights Theater at least once in your life. I went recently on sort of a spur of the moment thing and saw Phantom Lady from 1944. It was wonderful. There was live organ music for about a half hour beforehand. Magical!

Here's a tip: order the Heights Special – I didn't look carefully and got a large popcorn and a small pop – for a quarter more than I would have paid for a large popcorn and a large pop. To their credit, they did not point this out to me and try to change my order. They let me be dumb.


If you are a Paul McCartney fan you should check out "The McCartney Years" 3 DVD set. Put disc one on your netflix if nothing else. Some of the commentary is hilarious and/or poignant. At one point McCartney (2007) is watching McCartney (1980) walking in front of an arctic set and there's a polar bear. "I think there was a trench in between the bear and me…oh, yes. There's the water erupting from the trench." Maybe it's in his delivery. He's just like, "Oh, yeah, that time I was walking around next to a polar bear and of course water erupted from the trench between us. Naturally." So casual.

At one point in the "Silly Love Songs" video McCartney (1976) is goofing for the camera, walking with Linda, together looking like the coolest rock stars the world has ever produced, and Linda points her thumb at him and looks at the camera with a good-natured "long suffering" look. Paul (2007) says on the commentary, "Yes, he's a nutter, Linda."


On a related note, I was recently asked, "Could Linda McCartney really sing?" I answered somewhat less than unequivocally, but I've thought about it a lot since then. Yes. The answer is an unqualified yes. It's a shame that that awful clip of her isolated backing vocal from a 1989 live version of "Hey, Jude" got so much airplay. It was simply an artifact of poor engineering, rather like the 2004 "Dean Scream" that may or may not have given us an extra four deadly years of Dubya.

Nearly three decades of beautiful harmonies (often along with Denny Laine) and the very good compilation of her own compositions and lead vocals on the album Wide Prairie are far more representative of an artist who is sometimes unfairly maligned. Pick up any Wings album and you'll realize that the sound of the vocals – Paul, Linda, and Denny – really makes the music soar. (I recommend Band on the Run for first timers and London Town or Venus And Mars if you've already got BotR.)


In books, I must endorse Revolutionary Road. I love it. It is most reminiscent of John Updike's Rabbit books, but set in 1955 and with a deadly dry wit. Some people might say it is depressing but I say life is often depressing and this book is the accurate depiction of exactly how and why. It helps to have Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in my mind as the leads and I plan to move the movie to the top of my netflix now. The characters were so very real and heartbreaking. Terrific. Get on the waiting list for it NOW at your local library as it is very popular.


Final note: If you haven't seen any of the "Drunk History" episodes at you should really check them out. I laughed so hard I couldn't speak. Partly because I know I couldn't do any better at reciting those things even if I were sober.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ten Bands You Have All Their Albums Of

This was an interesting one to me and I could spend untold hours documenting in detail exactly which albums I have and why the ones I don't have don't count (This means you, Yellow Submarine (original version), which actually now that I think about it I bought on LP in high school) but here is the short version of what could have become a compulsive time suck. Minimum is three albums (Sorry Jubilant Dogs fans except for Stu who has a live disc and a rarities collection).

10. The Velvet Underground
9. Kaptain Karl
8. Scot Ninnemann
7. Great Uncle Helmer
6. Evan Johnson (Yes, there are three - if you do not have the five disc "The Evan Johnson Anthology" you are missing out.)
5. Simon & Garfunkel/Paul Simon (unless you count "The Paul Simon Songbook", longtime inhabitant of my amazon wish list, but not something I actually strongly desire or need)
4. Billy Joel
3. Kirsty MacColl
2. Bob Dylan
1. The Beatles

Anyone else? What's interesting is that I think there are exactly ten bands I have all their albums of.