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Sunshine. Moonlight. Good Times. Boogie.

9.25.2007


Picture yourself the member of a family band. You and your siblings are all talented and have worked hard to get the band where it is. But one of you is, well...better than the rest. Perhaps, he may even be, the King of Pop.

Back in high school after I slipped further and further (or is it farther and farther?) out of my NSYNC trance, my appetite for obsession grew. And it found satisfaction in Michael Jackson. Fortunately for me, he had been making music for decades, and there was so much to delve into (and people definitely had less to tease me about than with NSYNC...or not).

Many people are familiar with the Jackson 5 and their hits ("I'll Be There", "ABC", "I Want You Back") and Michael's solo albums Off the Wall ("Don't Stop Til You Get Enough", "Rock With You"), Thriller ("Beat It", "Thriller", "Billy Jean"), Bad ("Bad", "Smooth Criminal", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror"), and Dangerous ("Black or White", "Heal the World", "Will You Be There?") are legendary. But did you know about the Jacksons? I didn't, until I visited my personal mecca at the time, Tower Records, a music store that managed to have rows and rows of obscure CDs in stock. And lo and behold I found Jacksons albums.

In the early 70s the brothers left Motown for CBS/Epic records and officially dropped the "5" and added an "s" to the band name. This allowed them more artistic freedom, but they lost Jermaine who decided to stay on with Motown (so they brought in Randy--gotta love having a family band and nine kids to fill it with when one decides to be lame and unfamous for the rest of his life by not following his ridiculously more talented brother...).

In the summer of 1976 all the Jackson children minus Jermaine were signed onto a Jacksons variety show, the first ever hosted by an African American family (but it was canceled that March). Michael recorded the highly successful Off the Wall album in 1979 yet continued to stay with his brothers recording the album Triumph (1981) and touring. But Triumph was inevitably trumped in 1982 by Thriller.

There was once last "death rattle"--as Lester Bangs would put it--with Victory (1984), but Marlon, Tito, Randy, Jackie, Rebbie and LaToya (Janet on the other hand...) could not catch up with their brother Michael's genius (who can say why he stayed with them for so long in the first place after going solo?). That genius is best displayed in some of the greatest music ever recorded: Thriller, Bad, Off the Wall, Dangerous.

BUT that does not mean that the Jacksons albums do not have some seriously good stuff on them. If you like the 70s. And dancing. And disco. Who doesn't? At this point Michael's voice had changed and he was a growing adolescent, figuring out his identity as a singer. It was useless for any of the other brother's to have any kind of solo on the songs--your ears have to sit patiently, straining for Michael to hit the microphone and send shivers down your back and straight to your booty.


(here's "Blame it On the Boogie"--Jackie had a big thing at the time with being shirtless and wearing a scarf. We should bring that back.)



If you want to know more (and I'm sure this was already too much), be sure to catch the spectacular mini-series: The Jacksons - An American Dream (1992). Last night I drove to Chehalis to drop off a backpack to my mom (our usual family drug deal) and forgot my iPod, so I listened to all Jacksons. Here are my suggestions and observations (holy mother, if you're even still reading this) on the family's best stuff:

Destiny (1978)

Best Dance Bets:
"Blame it On the Boogie" (Lyrics Sample: "Boogie's got me in a Super trance"

"Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" (Lyrics Sample: "Let's dance, let's shout" --Irresistible song.)

"All Night Dancin" (Lyrics Sample: "And the music's taking me on a trip from nine to five")




Triumph (1980)

Best Dance Bets:
"Can You Feel It" (Lyrics Sample: "every breath you take is someone's death in another place" --boogie down to that!)

"Lovely One" (Lyrics Sample: "walking down the street so pretty, gone with your bad self")

"Everybody" (Lyrics Sample: "I love the way you shake your thing, you make me want some more")

The Jacksons Live (1981)



















Victory
(1984)









(Notice Michael's *glowing* glove and socks!)

And for those of you who held out and read this entire post, a little treat from Halloween 1999:
























Yep, that's me.

Neville Longbottom Tribute

9.19.2007



I found these on a facebook group page called "Neville Longbottom is a BAMF." If you haven't read the Harry Potter series, these probably won't be all that funny to you.

*Facts About Neville*

Chuck Norris' boggart is Neville Longbottom.
*
Neville urinates Felix Felicis.
*
If Grindewald and Voldemort were to get in a fight, Neville would win.
*
Ozzy Osbourne bites the heads off of bats. Neville Longbottom bites the heads off of Hippogriffs.
*
Neville is one-eigth centaur. This has nothing to do with bloodline; he once ate an entire centaur.
*
Neville Longbottom sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled bad-ass wizarding ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Neville Expelliarmus'd the devil's ass and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play Exploding Snap every second Wednesday of the month.
*
The Sorting Hat is no longer used at Hogwarts; students are sorted based on how long it takes them to cry in the presence of Neville Longbottom.
*
Nicolas Flamel created the philosopher's stone. Neville Longbottom created Nicolas Flamel.
*
Neville uses Nagini's blood as soy sauce.
*
If you spell "Neville Longbottom" in Scrabble, it's an automatic win.
*
Harry's chest tatoo isn't a Hungarian Horntail, it's a portrait of Neville.
*
Bellatrix never actually tortured Neville's parents. She just threatened to kill their son and they laughed themselves into insanity.
*
Even though it was difficult getting four dragons for the Triwizard Tournament, the officials decided it was safer than the original plan of using Neville.
*
Muggles don't know about Lord Voldemort, but they do know about Neville Longbottom.
*
Neville Longbottom doesn't bow to hippogriffs. Hippogriffs bow to Neville Longbottom.
*
If you're looking for Neville on the Marauder's map, he's labeled "BAMF."
*
Thestrals can only see Neville Longbottom if they've witnessed someone dying.
*
Neville became Head Boy AND Girl. No one dared comment.
*
They were going to release a Neville Longbottom edition of clue but the answer always turned out to be "Neville Longbottom, in the courtyard with a sword."'
*
Dumbledore seriously considered calling it The Order of Neville Longbottom before he settled on The Order of the Phoenix.
*
Someone once asked Neville if there was alien life out in the universe. Neville replied, "There used to be."
*
Neville Longbottom taught the Veela how to dance.
*
Hogwarts no longer teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts, they just hand out Neville Longbottom masks.
*
Before Neville punched it, it was known as Horizont Alley.
*
It was once suggested that "Diagon Alley" be changed to "Longbottom Alley." The idea was almost immediately cast aside, because nobody crosses Neville Longbottom and lives.
*
The wizard prison was originally named after Neville - it used to be Bad-Asskaban.
*
Originally, Professor Dumbledore was going to have Neville Longbottom guard the Sorcerer's Stone. But he couldn't figure out how to defeat him to get it back, so he went with plan B.
*
Neville Longbottom listens to Mandrake cries on his iPod for entertainment.

we won't come home until we fall in love!

9.18.2007





Today's moment of weakness: Hello Dolly! (Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

Highlights:

ALL of Barbra's songs, specifically "Just Leave Everything to Me", "Put On Your Sunday Clothes", "Before the Parade Passes By", "So Long Dearie", and of course, the title song duet with Louis Armstrong.

Also present is Michael Crawford (who would later go on to be the original Phantom of the Opera)

9.14.2007


"...and the novelty was quite simply the notion that in a movie you are looking at a real world, palpable, with people thinking of what to say, breathing, and sucking you in. And if you never actually go all the way in, why, that's because of the 'real' physical barrier (the screen existing in a different physics from the auditorium), and that is your safety too.

For it was the condition that promises you--the voyeur, the peeping tom, the dreamer--that you would never be identified or accused. And that was necessary and proper, because if you are going to imagine you are James Dean or Loretta Young, then your own identity needs to be put away, set aside, to make room for the dream. So you will not be lonely any longer."

- David Thomson

Emma Brockes on The Sound of Music

Did anyone else grow up with this musical? I didn't like it when I was younger because of the Nazis. But it's one of the best musicals ever. Emma Brockes, author of What Would Barbra Do: How Musicals Changed My Life, argues that Mary Poppins is a better film (I think I disagree...it would take another viewing of the Disney classic), but her writing on this Rogers and Hammerstein masterpiece is right-on.

"The first ten minutes of The Sound of Music are equal to any artistry since Plato's Republic but still make you want to hide your face, like seeing the hand of God."
The Sound of Music is not like other musicals. It has strange powers to mortify and exalt. It means more to some people than perhaps it deserves and incites greater hatred than its faults can be blamed for. I have a friend who says she could only marry a man who likes, or more realistically, didn't actively loathe The Sound of Music, because while most of the time she isn't watching it, when she is, it gladdens her heart like nothing on earth.

There are probably statistics to show that, as with the number of rats in London, one is never more than five hundred yards away from an amateur production of The Sound of Music. Its fans seem to treat it less as a film than a utility and it's almost impossible to go through a twelve-month period without inadvertently watching it. Traditionally it comes on TV on New Year's Day, when you are at your most vulnerable. Prone, still sweating champagne from the night before, you reach for the remote control, but your limbs won't obey and you fumble with the handset and before you can switch channels those opening notes have sounded dribs and drabs of flute like an offhand but irresistible invitation to come! Enter into eternal joy!

The camera soars over the Alps and Maria runs across the mountainside. All it needs is a smooth voice over to look like a 1970s introduction to holiday homes in the Tyrol, but even though its naked resolve to uplift should be enough to put you right off, like those Christian prayers masquerading as nondenominational "motivational" messages you find printed on cards and hung in spa waiting rooms--before you know it you're two hours in and hissing at the baroness as she clumsily tries to play ball with the children and the hills are alive with the Sound of Music whatever that means, but still, for some reason, it's impossible to get up and turn the thing off.


In The Sound of Music, the magic moment isn't the opening scene when Julie Andrews glides across the Alps, arms outstretched and with a look on her face that is only fully explained when you know she was being filmed at close range from a helicopter. The Sound of Music's real killer moment creeps quietly up two-thirds in, when, having fired Maria for recycling his curtains and falling in the lake, Captain von Trapp hears singing in the house and storms off to investigate. (She looks at his retreating back like Jesus did on the marketplace.) Marching into the house, he finds his children in the parlor, singing the title song to the baroness. "The hills are alive..."

As he listens in the doorway, something begins to dawn on him. Yes, he thinks, I remember this, the tender feelings provoked by a seven-part harmony. An expression creeps across the captain's face and as the ice around his heart melts, tears spring from his eyes, and he walks into the room crooning that he, the captain, also goes to the hills when his heart is lonely. The children stare at him as if a small mammal has just appeared through the curtain of his fringe, but recovering themselves, come in with backing vocals to accompany their father in the first von Trapp family sing-along since the death of the mother and at that moment, brrr, click, the baroness is defeated, a chill goes through the audience, Maria has brought music back into the house! And that, my friends, is the magic of the musical.

Life is Just A Bowl of Cherries

9.13.2007


"Everything Old is New Again" by Peter Allen (of Boy From Oz fame) from All That Jazz (Roy Schneider is the Fosse character, the young girl his daughter, and Ann Reinking is playing, well, herself: Fosse's protege/lover.)

Lately, I can't get enough Fosse.

Bob Fosse, to be exact. Kiss Me Kate, Sweet Charity, The Pajama Game, Chicago, Damn Yankees, Pippin, All that Jazz, Cabaret. You may have seen some of his choreography work on my post, "Walk it Out, Fosse" with his wife Gwen Verdon.

I remember hearing the name "Fosse" as I grew up, but I stuck to musicals that included these names: Kelly, Astaire, Garland, Crosby, Sinatra, Rogers, Hammerstein, Gershwin, Berlin, Comden and Green. For me, musicals had to be thoroughly clean, heterosexual, family-oriented, and then leave me feeling I could do anything or love anyone I dared (The Sound of Music had Nazis, but in the end the Von Trapps climbed ever mountain!).

Fosse's musicals--not necessarily the ones he danced in, but the ones he directed and choreographed--are the opposite of the Golden Age MGM style musicals. Fosse's work is chock-full of gender-bending, sex, drugs, and politics. Winking innuendos and love-lost heartache is stripped down (literally) to erotic exhibitionism and life-is-disappointment tragedy.

I finish watching films like All that Jazz or Cabaret and feel sad: sad for the characters, sad that Fosse died so young, sad that I'm not a dancer. If Gene Kelly makes me want to jump and be caught, and Astaire makes me want to tap, and Russ Tamblyn makes me want to do back flips, Bob Fosse makes me want to strut, slouch, wear fedoras, and have jazz hands.

Fosse’s genius was first recognized by Hollywood (and by me) in the 1953 film version Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate. For the song “From This Moment On” he was able to choreograph his own special section with Carol Haney, Gene Kelly’s trusted dance assistant (the other woman would later be Gene’s wife). You’ll be able to glimpse the early formations of Fosse’s signature style that would go on to make dance history. Plus, his singing voice is adorable (so turn up the volume)!

Here he is—the blonde in the yellow hat--with some of the greats: Ann Miller as Bianca (Hit the Deck, On the Town, Stage Door, Easter Parade), Tommy Rall in the red hat (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Girl, Invitation to the Dance, Pennies from Heaven), and Bobby Van in an orange hat. And in my opinion, he blows them all away. Don’t take your eyes off him. This is “From This Moment On” (not the be confused with Shania Twain).

I'm dreading my dishes at home

9.11.2007























Judy Brady (Syfers) said it best in Ms. magazine circa 1971:

I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife.
And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.

Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh
from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his
ex-wife. He is looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I
was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would
like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?

I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically
independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent
upon me. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I
am going to school, I want a wife to take care of my children. I want a
wife to keep track of the children's doctor and dentist appointments. And
to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat
properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children's
clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant
attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure
that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to
the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when
they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need
special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My
wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean
a small cut in my wife's income from time to time, but I guess I can
tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care
of the children while my wife is working.

I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife
who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children,
a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes
clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that
my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what
I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife
who is a good cook.  I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the
necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and
then do the cleaning up while I do my studying. I want a wife who will
care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time
from school. I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation
so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a
rest and change of scene.

I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a
wife's duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the
need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course
studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have
written them.

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life.
When my wife and I are invited out by my friends, I want a wife who will
take care of the baby-sitting arrangements. When I meet people at school
that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house
clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and
not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends. I
want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready
for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us. I
want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel
comfortable, who makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are
passed the hors d'oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of the
food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their
coffee is served to them as they like it. And I want a wife who knows
that sometimes I need a night out by myself.

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes
love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure
that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand
sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it. I want a wife who
assumes the complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not
want more children. I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me
so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies.
And I want a wife who understands that my sexual needs may entail more
than strict adherence to monogamy. I must, after all, be able to relate
to people as fully as possible.

If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the
wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with
another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life; my wife will
take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit
working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely
take care of a wife's duties.

My God, who wouldn't want a wife?

Sunday afternoon

9.09.2007

Today was a good Sunday.

The sermon at church was great, and we sang "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" with the Organ blasting and the choir behind us.

I was ready to mention Madeleine when they list people who've died during the "and those we now name" part of the prayers, but they said her and Luciano Pavarotti.

So I bought a book of her poems, The Ordering of Love..

Amber and I went to the market and she bought a hat and introduced me to the a local antique shop. Which is AMAZING. They had all these old records for super cheap. Last night I had a dream that I was doing houseboats again and for some reason my record player went overboard. I remember saying, "Hey, that was my dad's record player in college."

So I bought some records! And let me tell you, the Barbra Streisand record collection cup ranneth over!

Here were my purchases:





9.08.2007

As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.

- Barbara Brown Taylor
























"...There is a good case for arguing that, in the event of a visit by creatures from a far universe, ignorant of the cinema, one would do best to show them some steps by Astaire as the clinching evidence of the medium's potential. Better that than the noble actors—Olivier, Jannings, Brando, Barrymore, et al. Astaire is the most refined human expression of the musical, which is in turn the extreme manifestation of pure cinema: the lifelike presentation of human beings in magical, dreamlike, and imaginary situations. That might be thought to imply that Astaire's dancing depends on illusion. Not so. He was always the most technically exacting and ambitious of screen dancers, the most eager to perform in uninterrupted setups..."

- David Thomson