Music from the movie Fletch is the
570th Soundtrack of the Week.
It's a mixture of score and songs, with most of the
score and at least one of the songs by Harold Faltermeyer.
2019 May 17 • Friday
When I first met Reuben
Radding, he was managing the now legendary East Village zine shop See Hear.
Shortly thereafter he hired me to work at the cash register. Now, 25 years later, Reuben is one of the best street photographers
in New York City, perhaps in the US, perhaps in the world. And he's put out a zine! It's hard to pick a favorite but it's definitely the man
eating while surrounded by billboards for food. Runers up include the
upset child by the stuffed animals, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and
the woman in the chair on the sidewalk. This is a limited edition so get it while you can!
2019 May 15 • Wednesday
Shortly thereafter he hired me to work at the cash register.
Now, 25 years later, Reuben is one of the best street photographers in New York City, perhaps in the US, perhaps in the world.
And he's put out a zine!
It's hard to pick a favorite but it's definitely the man eating while surrounded by billboards for food. Runers up include the upset child by the stuffed animals, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the woman in the chair on the sidewalk.
This is a limited edition so get it while you can!
new Chris Moore record!
Sunday Painter is an EP, so it's only five songs.
But these five songs are fantastic.
Sunday Painter is an EP, so it's only five songs. But these five songs are fantastic.
"I've been climbing the walls all day / And I've yet to travel far", Chris sings on "Late Entry", which is maybe a Neil Youngish sort of song that creates a deep and relaxed groove that's nonetheless propulsive and haunting.
The last song, "Strung Along", begins with sombre electric guitar arpeggios and more lyrics about taking stock of one's place in life: "Some wear and tear / Yeah, we all got stories / About last night's battle / How it should have been glory". This one is stripped down and exposed, just guitar and voice. It's also really short, just about a minute and a half.
It's the perfect coda to this gem of an ablbum, though. Like everything Chris Moore does, this is heartfelt, powerful and always worth the wait.
2019 May 13 • Monday
The 569th Soundtrack of the Week is
this CD of music by Krzysztof Komeda for three films by
Leonard Buczowski: Smarkula (The Teenager),
Przerwany Lot (Cancelled Flight) and
Perly i Cutaty (Pearls and Ducats).
2019 May 10 • Friday
There's a new Coin-Op book!
The subject is classics of film noir. I've definitely seen almost all of
these. I'm not 100% sure about The Narrow Margin and The Blue
Dahlia, but it's more likely than not that I've seen them. The others
I've seen at least once. I re-watched Kiss of Death just last week.
(Nice wheelchair, Hoeys.) Just as home video releases of movies contain deleted scenes,
American Noir included a bonus in the packaging.
2019 May 08 • Wednesday
The subject is classics of film noir. I've definitely seen almost all of these. I'm not 100% sure about The Narrow Margin and The Blue Dahlia, but it's more likely than not that I've seen them. The others I've seen at least once. I re-watched Kiss of Death just last week. (Nice wheelchair, Hoeys.)
Just as home video releases of movies contain deleted scenes, American Noir included a bonus in the packaging.
Judith Merril's first novel, published in 1950, was called
Shadow on the Hearth. It's brilliant in a number of different
In her autobiography, as she recalls the intense and loving
relationship she had with Isaac Asimov, she reprints some of his adulatory
review of this book and remarks that, "I should have been overwhelmed
by his praise but I was only pleased that someone who understood precisely
what I meant to do had access to a major newspaper".
Further research is required. This book is so unusual and so well done
that I'm curious to know more about how it was received.
Further research is required. This book is so unusual and so well done that I'm curious to know more about how it was received.
The story centers on Gladys Mitchell, a happily married woman in Westchester, NY, with one son in college, a 15-year-old daugher at home and another daughter aged 5. The enthusiast of mid-century suburban home drama will find much to relish here. But Merril is a master of the narrative time bomb. When we first meet Gladys, she's stressed out about her first invitation to an exclusive ladies' luncheon. In this particular part of the world, it's a make or break type of thing. Alas, her housekeeper calls in sick and the teenaged daughter, Barbie, needs clothes washed for the babysitting jobs she's lined up.
So Gladys has to forfeit the luncheon invitation, which destroys her social life. On the plus side, the time she spends in the basement with the laundry saves her actual life. Because atomic war happens that day and the United States is bombed by an unnamed enemy.Manhattan is a primary target, of course, and that's where Gladys's husband, Jon, is. His fate is unknown to her. She's on her own with her children. Both kids are at school during the time of the attacks. They come home but it's a different world now, and Merril is superb at revealing this world to us through the eyes of her protagonist, a reasonable and reasonably satisfied person whose fear of war and militarism (having already endured World War 2) is now joined by the realization that many people, especially those in charge, enjoy this new reality of authoritarianism, paranoia, austerity and danger. Shadow on the Hearth stands in the middle of two other literary works. Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's The Blank Wall (1947) was about women fighting a war at home on their own as the men were overseas fighting in World War 2. James Tiptree, Jr.'s Houston, Houston, Do You Read? takes place in a future where there are no men, only women. In these books, women don't start wars or fight in them. Men do that and women and children suffer as a result. This is put most succinctly by Tiptree (pen name of Alice Sheldon), when a female astronaut points out that the only protection men ever gave women was protection from other men. Gladys Mitchell's husband is missing in action and her son, who doesn't live at home anymore anyway, gets drafted into the military now that there's a war on. She's actually managing just fine, though not at all happily, and her biggest problems are strange men who try to break into her house—for looting or perhaps worse— and the man who lives next door, who has apparently been lusting after Gladys for a long time, despite being married himself and recently becoming a father.
This guy is a big wheel in the post-atomic war world, a squad leader with power and pull. Merril very subtly paints a portrait of him as an establishment creep and more of a nuisance and a menace than anything else.
Every page of this book is deftly rendered and the pace is unerringly smooth and measured.
Incredibly, despite a brief trip to a hospital, which offers both the reader and the characters a view of how much worse things were than previously thought, the entire novel takes place inside the Mitchells' house.
(If Ozu were ever going to make a sci-fi movie, this would have been it. Though perhaps the material would have been better suited to Naruse. And is this even science-fiction anyway? I guess? It's the kind of question that isn't really worth asking.)
One of Merril's achievements is to question the post-WW2 world and anticipate the dilemmas and sorrows of the cold war to come.
Politicians are shown to be useless and conformists, those obedient to authority before morality, to be more dangerous than anybody else.
The most helpful people Gladys encounters are two men who are more or less considered enemies of the state, mostly for being against war in general and nuclear war in particular.
Merril makes a sharp point early on, one which should still resonate today, as many Americans are shocked—shocked!—by reports of interference with elections and acts of terrorism.
"l guess I should have read more about it before," Gladys said
diffidently. "I … well, I just couldn't believe it. I never
really believed any nation would use it this way."
"We did," he said harshly. "We used it in 1945. In Japan. Why wouldn't somebody else use it on us?"
Later, another character explain that he can't go to the hospital to be treated for radiation poisoning "Because I kept saying this was going to happen. Worse yet, I tried to prevent it. That makes me a public enemy". But most incredible is how a book about a small group of characters almost entirely housebound for five days can zip along like this.
Merril's writing is perfectly balanced, shifting between domestic drama and comedies of manners as well as neo-fascistic post-apocalyptic horror.
There are numerous small touches that enhance the book as a whole, such as a possible reference to Poe's "The Raven" ("Gladys sat bolt upright. Her wath said one-twenty. She ducked around swiftly, to the peeping window, but there was no one on the porch. Thud, rattle. Not a man knocking. No one banging at the door. Just the tree and a window, nothing more.") that's answered twenty pages later by Glady's robin-adorned tea kettle leading her to the discovery that all real birds appear to be dead ("three sparrows on their backs with toothpick legs pleading to the sky; another across the lawn; a few more farther away").
It's not clear how well this story ends for the people in it. There are some vicious sucker punches in it. And the ending, while entirely satisfactory, can hardly be called happy. And why should it? How could a story like this possibly have a happy ending?
But it does conclude solidly and with exactly the right amount of ambiguity. So far there hasn't been a nuclear exchange between hostile powers. Shadow on the Hearth is one of many reminders that nothing at all good could come of such a thing—and, by extension, presumably, any armed conflict.
The first line is "Veda was sick that day".
2019 May 06 • Monday
More than ten years of writing about soundtrack music on Mondays
and it’s only now that we stumble upon Patrick Cowley. Thanks to Dusty Groove in
Chicago, where I found this CD.
Cowley is apparently known for music he made in the San Francisco dance club
scene in the 1970s. This isn’t surprising, because this collection of music
for he composed for gay porn films, is devastatingly groovy and deeply funky.
It’s called Muscle Up and it’s the 568th Soundtrack of the Week.
A harder edge comes in with “Pigfoot”, which uses electric rhythm guitar to great effect
on top of a Clyde Stubblefield-type beat. The synth soloing suggests both prog rock and
2019 May 03 • Wednesday
A harder edge comes in with “Pigfoot”, which uses electric rhythm guitar to great effect on top of a Clyde Stubblefield-type beat. The synth soloing suggests both prog rock and minimalism.“5oz of Funk” is the next piece and that seems like a low figure. The drums are hitting hard and rough and enhanced by cowbell and other percussion. It’s another huge groove for various synth voices to play over. All of this music is fascinating and presumably less known than it deserves to be. Things calm down a bit with “Don’t Ask”, which leaves out drums and percussion entirely and lets guitar and synth create the groove. There’s a bit of it that flirts with the “Hang ‘Em High” melody but otherwise there’s various soloing and bursts of music that suggest funk or prog or even church music. The next track, “Uhura”, is completely different, with no groove at all to speak of but instead a sequence of different avant-garde electronic music ideas. This is another example of soundtrack music being at least as advanced as concert music or conceptual music or what have you. The didjeridoo, of all things, or at least an electronic approximation thereof, anchors the 11-minute “Timelink”, another spacious and atmospheric piece. It’s not quite as exciting as “The Jungle Dream”, since it lacks that piece’s irresistible pulse, but it is hypnotic and fascinating. This collection ends with “Mockingbird Dream 2”, a swirly, New Agey sort of piece that has a surprising intensity to it. About halfway through it switches gears into a spacey sort of groove and wraps up with some lush synth pads. This CD was a wonderful surprise and an encouragement to keep taking chances on music unknown to me. There are some other Patrick Cowley soundtrack collections out there and I’ve got some of those, too, now.
We've fallen behind on our reading here. It's taken us 115 years
to get around to this issue of The American Woman!
And another nice one: G. B. was also concerned about a remedy for "catarrh" of the head.
A few pages later, an ad for a catarrh reliever features these intriguing drawings: Other letter writers offered anti-bedbug advice ("paint or varnish
mixed with a little corrosive sublimate and turpentine … a sure
exterminator") and the suggestion "To freshen cucumber pickles pour
boiling water over them; this makes them crisp and nice, beside
freshening them much quicker".
It is a simple thing, but has cured my little daughter, who was deaf
for more than a year, and sometimes dumb three or four days at a time.
The doctors were about to perform an operation on her ears, when by
chance I learned o this, and decided to try it as a last resort before
permitting the operation. To my surprise and that of the doctors, it cured her,
and she has never had any trouble since—noe more than two years:
Take four tablespoonfuls of fresh goose-oil and put into a bottle with
a piece of gum camphor the size of a marble. Set the bottle in a warm
place until the camphor dissolves, add five cents' worth of peppermint-oil,
shake thoroughly, and put three drops of the mixture in each ear night
and morning. Place a bit of cotton in the ear to keep the oil in and the
This cure was submitted by Mrs. H. E. Church of Angus, Minnesota, who also notes that home-made goose-oil is better than the goose-oil carried by "any drug-store". Another reader, "G. B." in Shellbourne, Nevada, wrote in to ask for "the exact quantity of oil of peppermint" as "Five cents' worth may be more or less in different localities", which is a very good point.
And another nice one:
G. B. was also concerned about a remedy for "catarrh" of the head. A few pages later, an ad for a catarrh reliever features these intriguing drawings:
Other letter writers offered anti-bedbug advice ("paint or varnish mixed with a little corrosive sublimate and turpentine … a sure exterminator") and the suggestion "To freshen cucumber pickles pour boiling water over them; this makes them crisp and nice, beside freshening them much quicker".The latter writer adds, "I wish some one would suggest a remedy for superfluous flesh other than going without breakfast; when I work hard all day I get weak, if I eat no breakfast".
It took a hundred years or so, but the advice these days seems to be to go without dinner.
Even in 1904, readers of The American Woman were being told that smoking causes cancer.
Other ads of notes:
"We as that you show it to your neighbors who have cows."
That's a startling image for heart disease.
And there's always a little room for odds and ends.
2019 May 01 • Wednesday
The big news around here is… Twinkle!
This is a great new reissue and I might not ever have known about it
if it hadn't been in the window at Dusty Groove in Chicago!
This is a great new reissue and I might not ever have known about it if it hadn't been in the window at Dusty Groove in Chicago!