Saturday, October 16, 2021

Music Reviews: Tarheel Slim -"I've Got You Covered/Wildcat Tamer"

Since the pandemic begun I've been listening to more old school original rock-n-roll, primarily though not exclusively created by Black people. There are many different iterations of this music. 
As mentioned before on this blog during the time much of this music was created and performed, the music definitions of today had not been created. 
A person might record a slow blues for one market, an uptempo rocker for a different market, a lugubrious plodding gospel tune for the church crowd, a jazzy piece showing off to fellow musicians, or a horn heavy churner for people who just wanted to dance.
So you can call this music rock-n-roll, jump blues, rockabilly, whatever. I just like it. I like to think myself well versed in this stuff but I have been surprised and humbled and even a little angered to discover just how much of this music I hadn't heard before.
One musician I discovered was Tarheel Slim, or as his birth certificate read, Allen Bunn. As his nickname indicates, Bunn hailed from the great state of North Carolina. 
Born in 1932 the baritone singer and guitarist had hits in various genres, including gospel, pop, doo-wop, blues, rock-n-roll, jump blues, rockabilly, and soul. There are two songs of his which stood out to me on the collections I purchased.

Michigan Deer Attack

If you happen to be in Northern Michigan minding your own business keep a watch out for an aggressive deer which apparently doesn't like humans and has no problem demonstrating its disdain.
ARENAC COUNTY, MI — Showing no fear of humans and with a distinctive item around its neck, an antlered deer attacked a woman on her Arenac County property. 
While the woman survived the bizarre attack despite numerous puncture wounds, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding residents that wildlife should indeed stay wild. 
On Sept. 26, DNR officers responded to a residence in the Au Gres area for a report of an antlered white-tailed deer having attacked a woman, according to Lt. Brandon Kieft, DNR district law supervisor.
The woman in question, 64-year-old Patty Jean Willis, had been getting ready for church when she let her dogs outside and heard them making a ruckus, she said. Looking into her backyard, she saw a deer standing there. Adding to the oddity was that the deer wore an orange collar around its neck. Willis’ son and husband went outside and the deer wandered off, she said. About 10 to 15 minutes later, she went outside to tend to her chicken coop before heading to church.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Movie Reviews: The Woman On The Beach

The Woman On The Beach
directed by Jean Renoir
This is a relatively short film noir although it feels a little longer than its seventy odd minutes. It lacks most of the violence associated with the genre. 
It's a quiet film that is nevertheless unsettling and occasionally even weird. I suppose you could say that most of the missing physical violence is replaced by emotional pain. The story is just as foggy as the cinematography. This movie is all about mood. 
I didn't think there was quite enough action to move the story forward. But on the other hand The Woman On The Beach is a decent look at how people's internal struggles, desires, and goals play out in their relationships and their larger lives.
Scott (Robert Ryan) is a taciturn war veteran and current Coast Guard officer. Although people didn't use the exact term at the time that this film was made, Scott suffers from PTSD. During the war a ship that Scott was on was torpedoed and sunk. Scott nearly drowned. He now has recurring nightmares and even waking dreams about drowning and being pulled down to the bottom of the ocean. 
There's always a strange blonde woman in these dreams but Scott can't tell if she's luring him into danger or trying to save him. Perhaps not so coincidentally Scott's girlfriend and supposed fiancee Eve (Nan Leslie) is blonde and looks like the woman in his dreams. Usually that would be a good thing, right. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Harassing Senator Sinema in the Bathroom

With many people today it seems that the point is less to convince political opponents of the rightness of your beliefs than to bully them into being quiet about their opposition or failing that, to humiliate them and make them pay a personal cost for daring to oppose you. 
Because Arizona Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema has so far refused to support a proposed $3.5 trillion bill that would greatly increase the social safety net and possibly provide citizenship to illegal immigrants, many Democrats in and out of the media have called her all sorts of nasty names. 
That's all par for the course. Politics is not a place for shrinking violets. 
What's not normal is the idea, too often accepted by many people at various points along the political spectrum, is that their opponents are not only mistaken but bad corrupt people who don't deserve to be heard, don't deserve to be engaged with, and certainly don't deserve anything so basic as to be able to use the restroom with some form of privacy. 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Movie Reviews: Bodyguard (1948)

Bodyguard
directed by Richard Fleischer
This 1948 film was helmed by Richard Fleischer who also directed the somewhat lighter in tone The Clay Pigeon. Bodyguard is not the darkest noir either though it occasionally flirts with some heavier takes in terms of story and theme.
It might be of some interest to younger viewers because it stars famed Hollywood knucklehead Lawrence Tierney in the lead role. Tierney was never a superstar but made his name playing many tough mean guys, regardless of which side of the law his character could be found. 
This was a bit of art imitating life as the hulking alcoholic Tierney had numerous brushes with the law and violence, some minor, others less so.
His record included everything from assault on police officers, to drunken bar brawls with stabbings, fights with fellow actors, numerous stints in jail, and suspicious timing when a woman he was visiting supposedly jumped out of her apartment building to her death. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Book Reviews: Ride or Die

Ride or Die
by James Newman
Do you remember where you were, what you were doing, or your age when you first realized that your parents weren't perfect? Perhaps one day you discovered that your parents' marriage wasn't everything you thought that it was. 
Maybe you saw or heard one or both of your parents do or say something that was just as wrong as two left shoes. Well by the time you're an adult these sorts of revelations are probably old news. 
Once you've been spinning around the planet for more than a few decades you have probably accepted, ruefully or otherwise, that most humans are mixtures of good and evil, and generally somewhere between saints and sinners. After all as an experienced adult you've likely made your own share of mistakes or morally dubious decisions. 
And if you're a Christian are you not commanded to judge not lest you be judged and to worry first about the beam in your own eye before criticizing the speck of dust in someone else's? Indeed so.
But children don't have the years of experience or wider perspective needed to be sanguine about the moral failings of others, especially not those of their parents. Children tend not to do nuance all that well. Amelia Fletcher is a high school sophomore. Amelia's father is an insurance executive; her mother is a nurse.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

California Recall: It Must Be The Fault of Black Men

As you may have heard the petition to recall Democratic California governor Gavin Newsom and replace him with noted nutjob Republican Larry Elder failed spectacularly. 
About 64% of the electorate voted "no" on the recall. 36% voted "yes". 
As California is a heavily Democratic state while Elder is an odious person, even for a Black Republican, the results aren't that surprising. 
What is also unsurprising is that the New York Times found a way to take shots at Black men voters. You see, per CNN exit polls, 89% of Black women voters voted "no" on the recall. 
This was the group with the highest "no" voting proportion. But according to NYT columnist Charles Blow, there is something wrong with Black men because:
But there is a worrisome detail in the data, one that keeps showing up, one that Democrats would do well to deal with: Black and Latino men are not hewing as close to the party line as Black and Latina women.
In CNN’s exit poll, nearly half of the Hispanic men surveyed and nearly a quarter of the Black men voted to support the recall. The largest difference between men and women of any racial group was between Black men and Black women.

Movie Reviews: The Clay Pigeon

The Clay Pigeon
directed by Richard Fleischer
This is a film noir but very much at the lighter end of that cinematic spectrum. 
With a running time of just over an hour it's really very short and doesn't spend much time on character development or in invoking any sense of dread, existential or otherwise. 
There's actually a fair bit of comedy, some of it unintentional. The film actually tries to make us believe that a Japanese World War Two war criminal would attempt to hide out in a Chinese American residential area and NOT be detected by any of the people living therein. 
This makes about as much sense as thinking that a German Nazi war criminal would CHOOSE to live in a Russian-Jewish American neighborhood and move around with no problems. 
Perhaps to clueless outsiders every East Asian looks the same or every European looks the same but people within those groups and the hundreds of smaller groups that comprise them have no problems distinguishing among each other. They've been doing just that for hundreds or even thousands of years!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Movie Reviews: Outside The Wire

Outside The Wire
directed by Mikael Hafstrom
This sci-fi action film was a mishmash of Training Day and Chappie. It was entertaining but it lacked a really compelling Big Bad. 
It was at its core a war movie so I don't think it needed an interesting female role but there were nonetheless a few times when such might have been useful.
I am weary of Hollywood insisting on casting British actors into just about every conceivable role. 
It can take me out of the film to want to believe that someone is American or Ukrainian and hear them speaking in a pronounced British accent. Seems like casting directors and producers should start being open to more talent outside of Great Britain. 
Outside the Wire plays a little at the beginning and a lot later on with some heavy questions around wartime utilitarian ethics and the morality of following orders vs. making your own decisions.
Most of the war action felt much more Marvel like than Saving Private Ryan. I felt like I was watching special effects. That made some sense within the storyline for reasons that will become obvious should you watch the film.

Great Blue Heron Has A Tasty Snack!

And now Mr. Rat, your trip on this planet has come to an end!