Saturday, January 18, 2003

I've noted before that sometimes songs move me deeply.

It's happened again.

This time, it's Shelley Duvall's version of Harry Nilsson's "He Needs Me," from the soundtrack of Robert Altman's Popeye.

The song plays extensively in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, which I saw in a midnight screening last night. It's a moving, puzzling film, and the use of a song is a masterstroke.

(Typically of a midnight campus screening, someone vomited right behind me.)

This morning I dusted off my Popeye soundtrack--I'm a major Altman fan and a minor but appreciative Nilsson fan from way back--and played the Duvall aria.

And it moved me.
Week after next is my favorite television event of the year, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic pro-am golf tournament--the granddaddy of today's reality game shows featuring B-list-and-lower celebrities.

Watch forgotten stars golf badly!

Alphabetical highlights of this year's roster: Michael Bolton, Glen Campbell, Alice Cooper, Glenn Frey, Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean, Maury Povich, Andy Williams.

Join me here at 309 Saturday, February 1 for the celebrity round, won't you?

Learn more at the tournament's web page.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

You may not know that I'm an advice column buff. My favorite probably is Caroline Hax's Tell Me About It in the Washington Post. I'm also keen on Miss Manners, Savage Love, and's Since You Asked.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, put Since You Asked on a confusing, sometimes-it-costs-money-sometimes-not schedule, and naturally I'm not willing to pay. So the feature is altogether less satisfying.

Since You Asked was's replacement for my very favorite advice column, Garrison Keillor's Mr. Blue, which finished its run a year or so ago. Keillor still does a question-and-answer column on the Prairie Home Companion web site that's not unlike Mr. Blue. But predictably, Keillor maintains his PG-rated, aw-shucks radio persona on the PHC site. One of the pleasures of Mr. Blue was that it was, indeed, often blue--Keillor wrote a lot about sex and used words that don't turn up on Public Radio International.

All of which is to say, I enjoyed today's Dear Prudence column on Specifically, Prudence writes today about people who may go to a movie on the basis of the title alone and then are unpleasantly surprised by how things turn out--an alarmed friend took her young son to see Day of the Locust because she tought it was a movie about farming.

This reminded me of a time, about a dozen years ago, when I went to see Exorcist III in Nashville. It was a weekday matinee, and the theatre was empty except for me and a group of moviegoers who grew increasingly restless. Exorcist III isn't particularly scary, you see; mostly it's just talky and sort of boring. This became clear as the movie went on, and these folks grew louder and louder about their disappointment.

Finally one of them cried, "This ain't scary at all! This is just like when we went to see Dead Poets Society!"

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

What I just said to Ereck:

"The answer, my friend, is Whack-A-Mole in the wind."

Monday, January 13, 2003

RIP Maurice Gibb. My first LP (or my first LP that wasn't called something like "32 Great Kids Songs!" (did you have that one?)) was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I still have that record. I have lots of Bee Gees records.

At the age of eight my appreciation of disco was limited to the music. I didn't know beans about powder cocaine or Plato's Retreat. But I thought Bee Gees records were pretty great just the same.

I very rarely get rid of records. So I hung on to that Saturday Night Fever soundtrack through the 1980s, even though I knew it was the height of lame. The disco backlash hit hard, and that was forbidden music for the longest time.

I remember in fall 1989 when Rolling Stone did a ranking of the greatest LPs. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack got at best a grudging nod. For years after their disco ascendancy, the Bee Gees were the punchline to a bad joke.

Then, in the early 1990s, disco crept back in. In college, people threw disco parties. We'd dress up in thrift store finery and dance to, yes, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I remember all-nighters when I should have been writing papers, but instead was listening to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

It was at this time that the genius first struck me of the track "Night Fever," with its unexpectedly minor-key chorus, the lyrics of which are almost whispered. I also began to reconsider the Bee Gees' trademark falsetto as the brilliant thing it was. It was a truly odd sound--atypical, really, of disco, even as it was one of disco's hallmarks.

Interestingly, on the Bee Gees' 1989 comeback single, "One," the falsetto singing is all but absent--certainly not featured, as it is on "Night Fever." It was as though the Bee Gees were afraid of their own creation.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

I remain ambivalent about peer-to-peer file trading. Still, this weekend I downloaded a number of songs, mostly hits music from the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This was a time at which I had largely shut hits music out of my life altogether, other than what crept in via cable television, radios I didn't tune, and--of course--the ironic pursuit of kitsch, so fashionable in those days before the terrorists won. Or lost. Or whatever they did.

Here's my booty. Most of them I dimly remember. Some I remember actively loathing at the time they were on the charts (viz., Gerardo's "Rico Suave"). Now I find all of them tolerable, some of them even amazing. An example of the latter is "Nite And Day" by Al B. Sure! (his exclamation point, not mine). A great song.

Expose - Seasons Change
Patty Labelle & Michael McDonald - On My Own
Samantha Fox - Touch Me
Pretty Poison - Catch Me I'm Falling
Young MC - Bust a Move
Al B. Sure - Nite And Day
Pebbles - Mercedes Boy
Urban Dance Squad - Deeper Shade of Soul
Jane Child - Don't Wanna Fall In Love
Kriss Kross- Warm It Up Kris
Gerado - Rico Suave
Kriss Kross - Jump
Marky Mark - Good Vibrations
Surface - The First Time
amy grant - baby baby
Boyz II Men - Motownphilly
Mariah Carey - Emotions
Natural Selection - Do Anything For Your Lovin'
Mariah Carey - Someday
Timmy T - One More Try
Ralph Tresvant - Sensitivity
Hi-Five - I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)
Firehouse - Love Of A Lifetime
Cathy Dennis - Touch Me (All Night Long)
Paula Abdul - Rush Rush
Tracie Spencer - In This House
Mary Jane Girls - In My House
Quad City DJs - The Train

As I often say in this blog, you probably hadda be there. All this activity demonstrates yet again how aggressively pedestrian my tastes can be.