Monday, January 11, 2016

My wife, the lovely and talented NANCY McCALLION recently blogged about sad songs. She listed a number of her favorites and explained why and how they affected her. Being a brilliant songwriter herself, her insights were acute, insightful, and entertaining She requested others weigh in on  their favorite sad songs. Here's my humble offering -

 One that tears me up just thinking about it is I’M HENRY THE EIGHTH, I AM. The bouncy feel of the tune belies an undercurrent so bleak one has to delve back to Euripides’ MEDEA to find a just comparison. The narrator, contemplating his mundane, frighteningly pointless, and most likely agoraphobic life, can go no farther than next door to find a mate. Once this is achieved, the revelation that he is not only her 8th husband but that the previous 7 had the exact same surname, leaves him barely able to function. Trapped in a cycle worthy of Dante’s downward spiraling inferno, he endlessly repeats his self-flagellating mantra “I’m Henry the 8th I am, Henry the 8th I am, I am” ad infinitum…Emphasizing his revelation of wasted, unending hell, he spews with bile and cynicism, “SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST!!” Meanwhile, the unnamed fickle ingenue, proudly announces that she “Wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam.” These names, carefully chosen, reverberate with a sense of impending doom and unbearable melancholy. “Willie” obviously refers to WILLIE LOMAN the hapless protagonist of Arthur Miller’s tragic masterpiece, DEATH OF A SALESMAN – A man who has become a footnote to his own life – burdened with a job creeping up on obsolescence, an embarrassment to his family, suicide rapidly becomes a more and more attractive way out.
“SAM” more than likely refers to SAM THE LION, a central character in McMurtry’s THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Sam’s demise triggers the final death knell to the nearly lifeless small Texas town that is the centerpiece of this tale of wasted youth and dashed hopes. Pathetic perhaps, but understandable why she wouldn’t have a “Willie or a Sam!”
Even the band’s name – HERMAN’S HERMITS conjures up feelings of sadness and isolation. The band leader, HERMAN, representing the heartless God that oversees his flock of HERMITS – What is a more graphic reminder that we die alone than the image of the “hermit?” Are we not all “hermits” in the end? As bleak as this this song is, their follow up, MS BROWN YOU’VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER was so overwhelming in it’s depiction of mendacity and despair, that three members of the band committed suicide soon after the recording was completed. ( The bassist, COLIN MORELY died of auto erotic asphicsiation, so I guess he really doesn’t count).

Monday, January 4, 2016

Musings on movies

I dunno about this blog business. The assumption is that some bored ass people will be interested in my opinions and musings. Hell, I'm usually not that interested in them myself. And as you well
know, when you assume, you make an ass out of ume. What the fuck - I'm off!!

Went with my 14 year old daughter, Emily, to see the movie DADDY'S HOME last night.  Not what I would call a GOOD movie, but it made me laugh. A lot. So I guess it was a good movie. I'm not sure what it says about my sense of humor or taste in general, but I found that watching a skateboarding accident that ended in electrocution and a kid in a wheelchair being knocked on his ass by a ferociously tossed basketball, hilarious. I think I'm becoming more lowbrow as I get older. Fuck a bunch of Noel Coward.

I love movies. Always have. My father, Lee Krieger (who died when I was 16)  was an actor, and my nephew, (also  Lee) is a director. His last film THE AGE OF ADELINE is a beautifully made fantasy/drama that contains Harrison Ford's best performance to date. I also did some  acting in my youth but that's another story. Where am I going with this? OK - recommendations of movies I've viewed recently.

AMERICAN ME - As far as I know, it's the only film James Olmos directed. He also stars in it. He and William Forsythe give brilliant performances. It's a dark, stylized, atmospheric story of the Mexican Mafia and it's wielding of power from inside prison walls. It's also the only movie I can think of that  boasts of three scenes of anal rape!

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Although there are no anal rape scenes in it, I still love this movie. Frank Capra is one of my favorite directors. He's frequently accused of saccharine-like sentimentality and of being  old fashioned  ("Capracorn" was a popular expression amongst film critics of the time) but a darkness both philosophically and visually permeate most of his films. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a prime example. It does end with tears of joy and good deeds being rewarded, but the antagonist (the evil Mr Potter, played to the unrepentant, venal hilt by a  Lionel Barrymore) never receives a comeuppance, the hero, Harry Baily ( the always marvelous James Stewart) is denied his dream of travelling the world , and is punched in the face in response to a prayer. The scenes  prior to and just after his suicide attempt (in "Pottersville") are visually more akin to a Val Lewton horror movie than the usual feel good holiday attraction. I'm not sure why, but no matter how many times I watch this movie, I still tear up in the same scenes. If there was an anal rape scene in it, it would be nearly perfect. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vienna at the turn of the century - memories of Freud. Plucked from the Vienna School For Wayward Children ( where we were forced to learn complex choral arrangements and how to stuff tiny weenies into small cans) by the esteemed Neurologist and Psychiatrist, I was to become an intregal cog in the development of Freud's theory of psychoanalysis. I became Dr. Freud's guinea pig and at times, whipping boy. At this time, the "Talking Cure" as it was initially referred to, was a quite new and bold experiment. Upon entering his office for the first time, I was told to lay down on his couch. As I did so, he turned to me and said, "No, with you - face down." For the first few sessions I told the doctor of my reoccurring dream of being viciously shampooed by an alter boy named "Toots" while his golden retriever stood on it's hind legs and sang "Sweet Betsy From Pike." He claimed it was all very Oedipal, and that I was the only male patient he'd worked with that suffered from penis envy. I was then forced to take copious amounts of cocaine with the good doctor and perform ( nude, wearing only oven mittens) the last act of Ibsen's "A Doll's House" with finger puppets and a clothing dummy. I found the procedure humiliating and inane, but Freud became visibly aroused. For the next 2 weeks, no matter what I said, Freud's response was always a sarcastic, "yeah, right ,dickwad." It was around this time that Carl Jung broke all ties with Freud due to the fact that the doctor kept calling him "Puddin'" and intentionally used a hard "J" when pronouncing his last name
For some reason I've been thinking a lot about the movie DELIVERANCE. Initially, the great British director, John Boorman, hired me to play MOUNTAIN MAN #4. In the now famous scene where John Voit's character is tied to a tree and MOUNTAIN MAN #1 says "He's sure got a purty mouth. Ain't he got a purty mouth?" I was supposed to say "Not really. It's OK, but not particularly special." And then flustered, they untie him and leave. However, Mr Boorman felt the scene lacked suspense and a certain dramatic element. Ned Beatty, who had been complaining about not having enough to do in the film, piped up with "How about they fuck me in the ass?" Boorman was elated - "Capital idea, Beatty!" he exclaimed, and the movie changed direction and is now considered a masterpiece. My part was ultimately cut from the movie entirely and I never worked for Boorman again.