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Found 8 results

  1. I first heard this version of the popular song from the 80s maybe about 5 years ago. It was so beautiful and ethereal that I went back to the original, wondering what I had originally missed. Just a stunning stripped down iteration that makes you wonder where some beloved recorded songs would fall without their original embellishments/production.
  2. In this post, I justifiably poked fun at the sports media for proclaiming every "next great thing" as "The [X] Jordan" - Harold Miner was "Baby Jordan," Tamir Goodman was "Jewish Jordan," etc. Len Bias could have been the next Michael Jordan, and was quite possibly the only player I've ever seen in my life who was *that good*. Like when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, I remember exactly where I was, and exactly what I was doing, when I heard the news of Len Bias's tragic death - the two events happened only six-months apart. To young people today: I realize it's premature to even infer such a thing, but Len Bias was one of the greatest college basketball players I've ever seen. When he was drafted by the Boston Celtics, and then died from an overdose of crack cocaine, none other than Red Auerbach (who said he'd been planning for *three years* to draft Bias for the Celtics), said the city of Boston had not been so shocked since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Larry Bird, who had urged the Celtics to select Bias, and who had uniquely made plans to attend the Celtics' rookie camp to work with him, said, "It's horrible. It's the cruelest thing I ever heard." At 6'8", Bias was bigger and stronger than Jordan, and had everything you could possibly ask for in someone of that height. He had no weaknesses that couldn't have been fixed in short order, and when I'm in my old age, I will be telling this same story. Len Bias had all the tools he needed to be one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived. It isn't so much that he would have been the *next* Jordan; it's that he would have been Jordan's primary competition: Just as we had Bird and Magic, we would have had Jordan and Bias - he *was* *that* *good*. "Remembering Len Bias 30 Years After His Death: 'He Was It.'" by Cindy Boren on washingtonpost.com
  3. I remember when "Good to Go" was released in 1986 - I knew nothing about Go-Go, other than the posters (white background, pastel rectangles with black typeface) advertising concerts at the DC Armory (does anyone else remember these? I had just moved back to the DC area after spending nearly seven years roaming the country, and I was oblivious), and what I saw on "Soul of the City" with "The Moonman" (I can't find *any* internet entries for these - "Soul of the City" was Channel 20's poor-man's version of "Soul Train," and "The Moonman" was its version of Don Cornelius). What I don't want to be is a white person pretending I'm black (we've had enough restaurant critics doing this); what I *do* want to be is a white person acknowledging the rich heritage of this city's primarily black, 1980's population, and the incredibly important (oh, you don't know it's important yet?) influence of Go-Go, Trouble Funk, and Chuck Brown. When I say "incredibly important" ... it isn't ... yet, but I can hear - with my own ears - this influential style in today's rap, hip-hop, and whatever else you want to call popular music, and many of the roots were planted right here, in DC, less than forty-years ago. In the first seven (seven!) minutes of "Good to Go" (which was pulled from the shelves shortly after its launch, and renamed "Short Fuse"), you get scenes of an inner-city black youth, toting around his conga drum, and (this is why it was pulled from the shelves) the scenery includes The Washington Monument, The White House, a meeting inside The Watergate (really), and of all things, that nasty, concrete staircase that only upper-middle-class, white hikers, cough, embarking on The Capital Crescent Trail, neart its trailhead, close to the origin of the Whitehurst Freeway, knew about, as it was the only way to traverse Canal Road (the map of it is right here). Yes, there was a meeting there between two drug dealers - this is all in the first seven minutes of the film - they must have phoned each other, and said, "Let's travel 45 minutes each way into lower Georgetown, and have a 30-second meeting in that nasty concrete stairwell." Somewhere in this world, about four people are laughing right now. Well, I haven't watched the entire film (yet); just dribs-and-drabs, but it all streams for free right here on YouTube. As insane as it sounds, "Good to Go" is an important film, or will be, at least on a cult basis: I remember when the impossibly lame "The Big Chill" came out, three-years before "Good to Go" did - I protested the quality of the movie *loudly*, but everyone, and I do mean *everyone*, always replied, "But the *music*!" Rubbish. The film is lame, and the music is just as lame - cherry-picked to appeal to aging yuppies. At least with "Good to Go," fans of the genre can say, "the *music*!" and not hang their heads in shame: The opening theme alone is fresher and more original than anything "The Big Chill" has to offer ("Good to Go" could be on the Rolling Stone's Top 100 List of greatest and/or most-influential contemporary songs in history - other than pure rebellion, why is "God Save the Queen" any better than this?). Sanitized or not, "Good to Go" is probably going to be what Go-Go is best remembered for being (it isn't a dying genre, so much as a genre that has melted into other genres; pure Go-Go has come-and-gone with the crack-ridden DC of the 1980s, Marion Barry, etc. - that's not a racist statement; it's a historical statement, and it's true). "Good to Go" was made on a $1.5 million budget, and I think I remember reading once that Art Garfunkel's salary was half of the film's budget! Don't quote me on this, but it was either some crazy-high percentage, or he decided to forego being paid, or something odd like that. That said, Robert DoQui is in this film also, and he was a known actor at the time; Wikipedia incorrectly lists Anjelica Huston in the credits (and sent me on a wild goose chase, looking for a cameo!), but the actual actress' name was Angelica Houston. The "Most Awkward Performance" award goes to Michael White, who played Gil Colton (the national-level music rep, whom local rep Robert DoQui is soliciting at the Watergate) - he has a pretty big role in this film, and is as stiff as a board. Anyway, here's the film (for now): If anyone doesn't hear shades of "Rapper's Delight" in the song played around the 25-minute mark (or, a much closer match, the Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle," which was undoubtedly influenced by this), listen again.
  4. "Red Sorghum" is one of the more challenging novels I've ever read. This was 2012 Nobel Laureate Mo Yan's first novel, and remains his most famous - it was made into a film, also called "Red Sorghum," in 1987. As with so many other great works of literature, I'm saying to myself right now, 'There's no way this could be made into a film without losing much of its "guts"' - there's just too much that goes on inside of peoples' heads for it to be conveyed on the big screen. Oh, the story can be told, but not in anything remotely resembling the strange and mysterious narrative penned by Yan. It doesn't even matter if I tell you what the book is about: "Red Sorghum" is narrated by a descendant of a family of sorghum winemakers, and he jumps back-and-forth through time (the duration of the story is about fifty years, from the early 1920s until the 1970s, passing through the Great Leap Forward (perhaps the deadliest event in human history), and ending with the Cultural Revolution), telling the strange and fascinating history of his family, and the hard times and misery they endure, with the red sorghum itself being the only thing (other than the narrator) which links together the tale. Also, don't assume you'll pick up any snippets of real-life history by reading this; you won't. So, even though I just told you what the novel is about, it doesn't make one iota of difference - it's the type of book you *must* read to understand, and it is extremely difficult to get through. It isn't the language that's difficult; it's keeping up with the numerous characters, and adapting to sudden shifts in time (without being told you've shifted in time). I've read tougher books in my life, but probably less than a dozen (and I've read some pretty darned tough books). I highly recommend "Red Sorghum," but it sure isn't for everybody - you have to *want* this novel, and steel yourself for some very complicated and confusing literature. I got to the point where, for the final two-thirds of the book, I was taking notes on the pages - titling every single page with the gist of what happened on it; otherwise, it would have been impossible for me to refer back and find something I needed to find. Is this Nobel-worthy literature? Yes. I understand the Nobel is a lifetime-achievement award, but this is a worthy component of Yan's oeuvre that contributes fully to him winning the Nobel. Writing long-form literature this complex is a skill that I could never possess, so it's difficult for me to even comprehend how someone could write something such as this - it must have taken him forever-and-a-day, and I suspect the reason this was Yan's first novel (at age 31) was that he had spent the past decade thinking about it. My guess is that it's very unlikely that any of our members have read this, but if anyone is out there (even just lurking) who has, I would love to discuss aspects of this novel with you - I read it without any help, and as I post this, I have still yet to read any reviews or critiques of "Red Sorghum." I look forward to doing so, so that I can figure out exactly what in the hell I've spent the past six months reading. Also, don't do what I did (pick the book up only occasionally) - this is a novel that needs to be read continuously; not sporadically. I am *so glad* I decided to take notes (I even bought a second book several months ago, so I could have a new one once I was finished defacing the one I read).
  5. This is so amazing that it needs commentary. It's Nadal vs. The Stalker: The Stalker gets ready to hit a heavy topspin serve: And kicks it out wide to Nadal's backhand, stepping in to stalk a short return: Nadal is pulled wide, and stretches to hit a backhand return, The Stalker is one-step closer in: Nadal is now *backwards* after hitting his return. The Stalker closes in even more: Nadal gets it back, and starts sprinting to the other side of the court, while The Stalker prepares to hit a volley: The Stalker wisely goes *behind* Nadal, who has committed to sprinting across the court, forcing Nadal to apply the brakes: Two words are going through Nadal's mind right now: "Oh, fuck." But Nadal is Nadal, and somehow gets his racket on the ball: And Nadal sends it cross-court, The Stalker moving accordingly, and Nadal beginning to change direction again: Oh, if The Stalker could have only kept this volley a foot lower: The slow, red clay lets the ball bounce high, giving Nadal barely enough time to get there: But can only scoop the ball up - once again, Nadal is at The Stalker's mercy: The Stalker steps around to hit a backhand out wide, sending Nadal on another impossible sprint: And I mean, Nadal is in *big* trouble, but do you see the mistake The Stalker is making here? Look at that hole on the left side: I've seen this shot several times, and I'm *still* not sure how Nadal is hitting it, but he somehow gets it back on one bounce, facing backwards: "Oh ... fuck ...": But, oh my God, The Stalker is lining up for something incredible: Yes! A between-the-legs shot with Nadal pulled off the court! But no, not even The Stalker can pull this one off. It's Nadal's point.
  6. I cannot believe it! I saw "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" when it was released in theaters in 1986 - right at the beginning of my "art-house theater period," when I was going to great lengths to expose myself to culture other than Del Taco. Or perhaps it was in 1990 after the rating changed (see below). By chance, I happened to look up Merle Dixon - one of the primary characters on "The Walking Dead" - and saw that his name was Michael Rooker. I didn't recognize the name, and like I usually do, I looked him up on Wikipedia, only to have my *jaw drop* when I saw that he was *Henry*! I couldn't (and still can't) believe it! I saw *Merle Dixon* thirty years ago in an art film! You just have no idea how shocked I am to find this out (I just found it out twenty minutes ago, and immediately rented the movie on Amazon). Warning: I remember "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" as one of the more violent, disturbing pictures I have ever seen, so even though it's an "art film," it's a no-holds-barred, well, it's a no-holds-barred portrait of a serial killer, so if you're disturbed by films such as "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover," you might want to stay away from this. This film was originally rated "X" for its sheer brutality, but that got changed to NC-17 when that rating was implemented in 1990, so ... fair warning. It was shot in less than one month with a budget of $110,000, and is widely (though not universally) critically acclaimed. Most importantly, it is *not* a slasher film despite its brutality. I just started the movie, and I can't believe I'm watching Merle Dixon at age 30! Damn! One of the first things I recall is that I remember "Henry" as being a somewhat diminutive man; whereas "Merle" is a large, imposing figure - in reality, Michael Rooker is 5'10", which will probably come as a surprise to viewers of The Walking Dead: They portray him very well as a bigger man (and someone who you would not want to mess with). About halfway into the movie now, and I'm having a bit of trouble separating Henry from Merle, but Michael Rooker is an *excellent* Henry. Unlike so many other films dealing with this type of subject, there's no offsetting humor, no laughs (not even dark laughs), no letup of the grungy lives being portrayed, no remorse or complexity of character (other than the obvious: Henry was most likely severely abused as a child, but the way he tells it, we're not entirely certain because his story has holes in it) - this film is just straightforward "portrayal," and it's because of that, that it seems so bone-chillingly real. These are people that, under no circumstances, would you want to try and "reform" or "help"; you'd just want to stay as far the hell away from them as you possibly could. Henry just "introduced" his prison friend Otis (Tom Towles) to murder, and from what I remember, Otis is going to begin enjoying it very shortly, There is seemingly a hint of honor in Henry sticking up for Otis's sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), when Otis crosses the line in the way he touches her - Becky (who has just left an abusive husband) is quite taken by Henry, as the two have child abuse in common, and Henry, in turn, seems to be somewhat moved by Becky's fondness for him - so we're dealing with 99.5% evil; not quite 100% evil ... at least not yet. On the other hand, Otis is revealed to be a sociopath perhaps even more depraved than Henry (I know that sounds impossible, but it's true) - whereas Henry's "illness" is deeply ingrained in his soul, that of Otis is closer to the surface, and more obviously hedonistic and perverse - he is the type of person society needs to have eliminated at all costs (they both are, but Otis's newfound fetish is even more repulsive than Henry's psyche). I didn't exactly remember the ending, but close enough. This is one intense movie. This is considered a "psychological horror" film, and the psychology behind it lies in the fact that, while you're watching it in the confines of your living room, there are people out there - maybe right outside your house - just like Henry and Otis, who are going to commit another random murder that evening. Wherever you are in an urban area, there's probably a murderer within two miles of you - if that isn't terrifying, nothing is.
  7. "Platoon" was the first film in a trilogy by Oliver Stone (a director whom I respect more than I like), the other two films being "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) and "Heaven & Earth" (1993). I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and I still remember Willem Dafoe's face when he realizes he's about to be betrayed - that was an extremely powerful moment, and he was really good in this movie. Pretty cheesy opening the movie with Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" - sure, it's a great piece, but if you're going to drop $6 million making a movie, let's have an original score, please? There are plenty of talented composers out there who need the work and the money, and they would have done just fine - you would have even had something you could have called your very own. In case anyone's wondering how big a platoon is, here's a chart of Unit Sizes. A platoon consists of 25-40 people, and is usually led by a lieutenant - it's the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer. "Platoon" takes place in 1967 somewhere near the Cambodian border, and depicts the Bravo Company and 25th Infantry. Interestingly, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp (!) are both in this movie. Speaking of which, it is essential to use this Cast list when watching on streaming video - it allows you to stop the movie as many times as you wish, in order to memorize names and faces (quite a luxury, in this film). This movie is exhausting to watch - it makes one wonder just how exhausting it must have been to actually be there. Have there been any articles written about how closely Platoon reflected actual trench warfare? Because if this is how it was (and I suspect it is, at least in certain situations), boy did this suck for the soldiers on *both* sides.
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