Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rescued From Obscurity: A Rod Stewart Double Shot

How YOU doin'?
While Rod Stewart definitely isn't obscure--I think by now even his detractors would agree that he's reached "legend" status--the following two songs could definitely be categorized as such. And since I was going to post both videos on here anyway, I figured I might as well use the RFO tag, even though it's just the tracks themselves that are relatively unknown and not the artist.

I get a lot of flak for being a Rod Stewart fan. One reason is because, well, he's Rod Stewart. At best he's seen by non-fans as sort of a campy old relic from the seventies. At worst he's viewed as a musical whore who sold his soul several times over, first by abandoning his "respectable" rock roots and embracing pop in the mid-seventies ("Tonight's the Night"), then from pop to disco in the late seventies ("Do Ya Think I'm Sexy") then synthesizer-infused pop rock in the eighties, ("Young Turks," "Passion") and then from about 1990 on sliding steadily down the adult contemporary slope and straight into old fogey/Vegas territory with his Great American Songbook series. 

It makes me wish that some of Rod's "deep cuts" were in the public consciousness. "In a Broken Dream" is just one of many breathtakingly awesome songs that are pretty much known only to Rod's hardcore fans, and that's a shame. If "In a Broken Dream" had the fame it deserved, I don't see how anyone aware of its existence could sneer at anything else Rod recorded, no matter how cheesey. The song is truly sublime: it manages to be sad and angry and darkly funny all at the same time. It could be argued that while "In a Broken Dream" is great song on its own, the lyrics and music comprise only about 20% of its awesomeness. The remaining 80% is all ROD. It's in his voice and his delivery, and it makes my knees go weak.           

While it's hard to imagine "In A Broken Dream" being a commercial success in any decade, I feel like "Leave Virginia Alone" could have been a hit had it existed five years earlier. As luck would have it, Rod Stewart's seventeenth studio album A Spanner in the Works was launched into the world in May 1995, smack in the middle of a musical period where watered-down grunge and Top 40-approved gangsta rap ruled, leaving no room for anything that fell outside those two dismal categories. No surprise then that "Leave Virginia Alone" barely got any love at all, peaking at #52 in the US charts. It shouldn't have been that way, dammit, because it's an amazing song. It was written by Tom Petty, who (to my knowledge) never recorded it himself. I like Tom Petty, but there's no way his voice could do justice to the song's whimsical, melancholy lyrics. No one does whimsy or melancholy like Rod Stewart--see "Maggie May," "You Wear It Well," "Some Guys Have All the Luck," and pretty much every hit he's ever had. The video is beautifully shot, too (by director Zack Snyder, who I guess is a big deal these days) and it fits the track perfectly. I love the vintage shabby chic New Orleans-y feel of this clip, particularly the giant papier mache heads that look like something out of a Mardi Gras parade (and the throwaway shot of that one head breaking into dance at the 3:29 mark is fabulous). 

And because I'm such a fan of Rod the God, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention his new album--his first one of original material in several years--just dropped last month . I got my copy the day it was released, and it's fantastic. I'm so glad that Rod is back in the game and that he has (for now) gotten away from the old standard covers he kept cranking out over the last decade. I mean, I loved hearing his voice on songs like "My Funny Valentine" and "That's All," but seriously, it was time for him to move on from all that.

It was "time" for him to move on....get it?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Game of Thrones: Why I'm not watching it.

Big "Game of Thrones" fan, huh? That's super. No, really - I mean it. Good for you. 
All kidding aside, I'm not knocking Game of Thrones fans. Some of my best friends are Game of Thrones fans. From the reviews I've read, the show does seem interesting. I mean--royalty, intrigue, mythical creatures, orgies, dwarf sex--it definitely doesn't sound boring or formulaic. And I love Peter Dinklage (see The Station Agent if you haven't. Beautiful film.). Also, the books are HUGE, and I can appreciate that. In this day and age I applaud any novel or series that can compel people to step away from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever and read a goddamn book. Being an author myself, I have a vested interest in that sort of thing. That's why I don't have a problem with the much-maligned 50 Shades of Grey series. In fact, I actually bought and read the first book just to see what the fuss was about. Sure, the writing was god-awful, the plot laughable, and the "scandalous" sex scenes were alternately dull and unintentionally funny. But it got people reading. And, like Twilight, it will continue to spawn countless that many people will read. See my point?

But back to the Game of Thrones TV adaptation. Again, I'm not hating on the fans. Not at all. Just don't try to convince me to watch it. Really, give up now. It's not happening. I'd sooner sit through a Jennifer Lopez movie marathon, starting with Gigli and ending with Jersey Girl, with The Back-Up Plan, Enough, What To Expect When You're Expecting, The Wedding Planner and Monster-in-Law sandwiched in between. (Note: you know how I say I love bad movies? Jennifer Lopez flicks are not the sort of bad movies I'm talking about.)  

God bless my empty uterus.
There are plenty of reasons I'm not watching Game of Thrones, and here they are: beheadings, dismemberment, mutilations, throat slashings, animal murder, "characters' disgusting enjoyment of violence against women", and an episode so horrifically gory that it's even alienated some of its hardcore fans.

I can't stand excessive violence, real or fictional, in movies or on TV. It upsets me to the point of panic attacks. No joke. It's just how I am. This makes me somewhat of an oddball, in that my views on violent movies and TV programs seem to diametrically oppose the attitudes of the mainstream. The majority of audiences appear to be just fine with programs depicting gory subject matter, whether the gore is gratuitous (Game of Thrones) or mostly off-screen and implied (CSI, Law and Order SVU, and any number of popular police dramas). The thing that really kills me--especially when it comes to television--is the mentality that violence and brutality are A-OK. But sex and nudity? HOLY SHIT NO THAT'S IMMORAL OH MY GOD THINK OF THE CHILDREN! It's one of the prevailing attitudes in American culture that has always baffled me. 

To be fair, Game of Thrones is something of an exception to my sex vs. violence argument, as it's chock full of both sex and violence (something for everyone!). It's also on HBO, a channel that pretty much has free reign to depict whatever the hell they please, short of hardcore porn and snuff films. But again, it's not the sex that I object to. If Game of Thrones solely revolved around elaborate wood nymph orgies, I might even tune in just to see what the hell a wood nymph orgy looks like. But it's not all freaky-deaky fantasy-novel-type sex scenes. It's a whole lot of blood. Fake red corn syrup blood--but you catch my drift. 

Also, it airs on Sundays, and Sundays are sacred. Sundays are for Mad Men.

It's Draper time, baby.



Thursday, June 06, 2013

Are you ready for the creepiest thing you'll see today? Cause here it is!

This is also an unbelievably lazy post--it's not like it's hard to make fun of this video. But screw it, I'm going in.

  • 0:16  Was anyone else relieved to see both of his hands? I know I was. 
  • 01:10  Say what you will about the guy--he does a good job of not tripping over the stage while walking backwards. Are the French known for their coordination? 
  • 01:15 - 01:25  Those dancers are really trying hard to out-creepy that doll. But it can't be done. 
  • 01:26  See what I mean?
  • 02:16  Nails it again! He's good. 
  • 02:44  Even when the girls turn on him, he never stops dancing! 
  • My favorite YouTube comment: "Roman Polanski never sounded better."
I think it's the effects of summer in the Deep South, but my brain is moving really slow. I'll kick it in high gear soon and be back with a proper post.