TUESDAY, AUGUST 14th 2007
Augh. Between a registered user who dumped horrid spam on the site and a user who used some, er, salty language on a multimedia blog post (I’m a-lookin’ at you, Mr. G), it was one of those days. You know, the days where the pasta overcooks because you’re bent over the laptop after being away from the site for an hour. An hour! Fool! That’ll teach me. Ideally I would have a small portable device that would project an interactive holographic display of the site, so I could set it on the floor in the grocery store and delete the links to the Online Slut Casino before I move on to the next aisle to get the pesto. Ideally I’d have a small device implanted in my spine that sent an electrical charge whenever anyone posted a comment, too. Ideally I could call up the approval queue on my windshield. As it is now it’s late at night, and I’m still poised over the comments queue, waiting for Mr. Sleaze-o-link to show up again.
At least I have good weather. It’s perfect gazebo-time – a storm’s coming in, it’s humid, and great aerial drama seems in the offing. Lots of work to do, which means the usual Tuesday media roundup, banged out in haste.
I watched “Peggy Sue Got Married,” a 90s film for which I have great affection. It’s a chick version of “Back to the Future,” if you want to reduce it down to a simplistic pitch, and I don’t know why it hits me like it does. Well, I do – it takes place in the Great Mythical Then I love so much, and slathers on the candy coating. It’s a trifle, I suppose, but the scene in which Peggy Sue goes home again, sees her mother, her home, her teenage room – it’s underscored by one of the most ruthlessly bittersweet pieces of music John Barry ever wrote, and it just kills me. I used the music in the first family video I ever did, the day we brought Gnat home from the hospital, and it reduces me to a blubbering fool every time I think about it. Barry probably wrote it in an afternoon. There’s almost nothing special about the melody, and the arrangement is completely typical. But it captures something – not loss, not regret, but recollection and distance, the way memory can console and sadden in the same breath. As I said, it’s fairly straightforward movie music, right up until 2:28 into the piece. And then it just mows you down. The man could write for strings.
Soundtracks, as I’ve always maintained – he said, pretentiously, well aware what a philistine this makes him – are last manifestation (see? pretentious) of the classical tradition, stripped and boiled. John Williams saved the genre. The seventies was a dank time for soundtracks – one of the great film composers, Bernard Herrman, gave us the last great 50s soundtrack with “Taxi Driver,” but for the most part scores bent to the whim and preferences of the era. (Duh.) Thought of that the other night while watching “Straight Time,” a highly acclaimed and generally unpleasant Dustin Hoffman film from 1977. I saw it upon its initial release, and thought it was Deep, and Important, because it was about a criminal and Dustin Hoffman was the bad guy so this must mean something in the larger sense. It’s overrated. The individual performances are good – Scary Gary Busey, all hunched and grinning and sweaty and dumb; Harry Dean Stanton, with another faultless performance of a dim lost loser; M. Emmett Walsh as a parole officer. A “sadistic” parole officer, according to some reviews – some viewers seem to think he made poor Dustin Hoffman return to a life of crime because he applied the rules. THE RULES, MAN, IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE STINKING RULES. Well, I suppose so. But Hoffman’s character was an unpleasant charmless user – and this being the 70s, he naturally bedded Theresa Russell. All in all: downbeat and unenlightening. The soundtrack, though: it wants us to think this is something else, and it solicits our sympathy. Why, our boy’s a funky man-of-the-street, doin’ what it takes to get by.
Compare the two examples – the Barry track is treacle, I suppose, and the “Straight Time” track is more interesting, but dated.
Oh - I'm always interested in the pinball machines you see in old movies.
That's Monaco, and Grand Prix. If you care. I'm also interested in evidence to bolster my long-standing case against the 70s, simply on aesthetic grounds. This will do:
I was looking for a Laugh-In reference to Walnettos – for reasons that will be explained in a few weeks – so I Netflixed a disk. Gah. Lest we forget, I present these screen shots, each representing another wonderful aspect of that daring, genre-redefining show.
The colors, assembled in retina-shredding combinations!
The constant threat of Alan Suess:
The realization, so many many years later, that these guys were blowing joints the size of piano legs:
The progressive politics! White go-go dancers for white comics, and black go-go-dancers for black comics. Otherwise they lose Dixie affiliates.
The guest stars!
That’s Danny Kaye, incidentally. The show had a way of dragging everyone down with it.
The daring shock-comedy! Yes, that’s a Gabor.
I just adore a Heil that’s Seig / Darling I love you but give me that old Blitzkreig.
Well, that’s it for today – off to buzz.mn! See you there.