Thursday, September 24, 2015

Musical Collage

I need to get up and get more constructive, but before I snap into action I thought I'd post this first from the Dangerous Minds site.  It's a bunch of musical collages made from Don Joyce, one of the members of Negativland.  I've heard their band's name before, but I'm not familiar with their music.  If you go over to the site, there's an embedded file from where you can listen to a four hour segment.  Supposedly there's a lot more where that comes from if interested.

I've sort of been in a soundtrack, electronic, krautrock mode as far as music is concerned.  Next week it will probably change over to something else triggered by who knows what.  I've still been watching some of the Vinyl Community's videos over on Youtube.  The more you watch those things, the more you learn or see things that you'd never discovered or knew of before.  I'm actually surprised that vinyl sells as well as it does these days because generally, at least here, the new vinyl is more expensive than the CD equivalent. 

Oh, while on the subject of music, I'll mention a rock doc I saw the other night on Alice Cooper called Super Duper Alice Cooper.  It traces the history of their early inception of the band, up thru where they get famous in the 70's, and on thru their break up, and Alice going solo and taking on the moniker of Alice Cooper himself.  It was a real fun doc, if you are so inclined.  I wasn't a great fan of his shock rock so much back in the day, but I grew to where I enjoy some of it. 

For me their best album was Pretties For You, which was their second album, and is more psychedelic, Dada-inspired than shock rock, but I still enjoy it among other songs from them.  I always liked the album art from that album.  It's sort of modern, and yet a throw back to some other era.  It's just bizarre.  There's a video over on Youtube about the artist, Edward Beardsley, who was a dean and professor over at UC Riverside. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fall Movies

The current issue of Rolling Stone had a nice article on some of the 2015 movies coming this way in the fall.  This is the time of year when the movie season really kicks into high gear. Yes, I'm looking forward to the new Star Wars movie like everyone else, but there's plenty of other films that look interesting as well. 

I read a Netflix friend's review of the movie, Sicario, where he said it was pretty amazing.  There's a new Michael Moore film as well, for those into documentaries.  I'll admit I like his films, whether they are biased or not.  He reminds me of the way Ralph Nader used to be--standing up for the underdog, and shedding light on issues.   The Martian, yes, I'm interested.  Heck, I'm even curious about the new Steve Jobs movie.  Did you happen to catch the Disney two-part documentary that was on PBS the other night?  It was really good. 

Bridge of Spies--I'm always interested in anything Spielberg creates, even if the subject matter doesn't wow me from the onset.  He just knows how to craft a film that's fun to watch.  He's one of my favorite directors.  Some might think Tom Hanks is a bit washed up.  I think there was a time when he was a bit overexposed, but I hardly think he's ready for the retirement home.   As long as there's good roles, even at his age, he can carry off a part.  Did you ever see Captain Phillips?  It was a really good action film.
Crimson Peak by Del Toro, could be really scary, and even it it's not, looks steeped in atmosphere with great set design. 

Then there's a new 007 movie.  Truth is a new Robert Redford film where he plays Dan Rather.  Dan Rather is a Texan, and I always thought he was a good news journalist and anchor.  Hopefully that films is well made.   Finish out the year with Star Wars, and the final episode to The Hunger Games, and it looks like it's going to be a good year for films. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dumb Ways to Die

                                          Pretty fun video that name drops a few movies.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Wages of Sin

I've been watching some of the 'Vinyl Community' videos over on YouTube.  They can be a lot of fun, and sometimes informative too.  Like all vinyl or music collectors in general, the hunt for something new or hearing about some unheard of musical band or album is always the quest.  I've got the above soundtrack to Sorcerer (1977).  I saw the film at the theaters many ages ago and had no idea what I was going to watch.  I may have seen a trailer for the movie, I don't even remember, but I already knew Tangerine Dream as I had a few of their earlier albums like Phaedra and Rubycon.  They are a German space rock band with surreal/psychedelic elements within their music as well. 

From what the title suggests and being a film directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist), one might expect this is a supernatural or horror film, but it's not.  It's really a remake of the French film, The Wages of Fear, an action, adventure film.   That said, however, it still a very interesting film, that's tense in every sense of the word.  It stars Roy Scheider among other unknown stars (at least to me).  The set up plunges you in the center of a hellish South America that's is impoverish, dirty, wet, and where each man cannot return to their own country.  The setup requires you to stay alert as a bit of each man is explored.  They come together by happenstance when drivers are needed by an oil company to transport explosives across the rugged South American landscape.  What happens in route is the later half of the film and terribly engrossing and you really feel the struggle of each man as it test their endurance.  The music by Tangerine Dream is a nice fit which at times creates a spooky primitive atmosphere and at other times ethereal and almost psychedelic.  For whatever reason, the movie wasn't well received and was dismissed as an unnecessary remake of the original film.  But I've seen the original, and I much prefer this version for the performances of Roy Scheider,  the Tangerine Dream score, and the Friedkin direction.  I think given the history of time, the film has weathered better with critics and now it's seen on its own merit, a masterpiece. 

Getting back to the YT Vinyl Community, below is a guy (vinyl~spin) that is one of the better VC presenters.  His delivery is clear and measured, and I can tell he's been collecting a long time.  He also has good taste or a taste similar to my own.  Plus he has many things I'm not aware of.  In the video below he starts out by telling when and how he began collecting music.  The segment is about synthesizer music, new age, space music, and krautrock, which all share a similarity.  He highlights some classic records.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

West Texas

Here's a video of Big Spring in West Texas.  It's the town my family moved to when I was a junior in high school.  It's a pretty isolated small town.  For some reason, and I'm guilty of it too, a lot of people call it Big Springs, plural.  But really there's only one spring there like they show in the video.  One of the things you recognize first off is the view.  The town is sort of located up on a plateau, so you can see way off to the north.  Lubbock, Texas is further north about a hour and a half drive away.  Still further north, and three hours from Big Spring,  lies Amarillo, Texas.   Midland and Odessa are due west about forty-five minutes away, so if you are wanting to get out of town to do some shopping or something, they are a bit closer.  Still West Texas is still fairly spread out, and isolated.  Also whenever we'd have a sandstorm, you'd see the red dirt in the distance, and you knew it was coming.  The sand would blow like in those dust bowl videos, and the dirt would seep under doors and windows, and practically everywhere.  You'd definitely want to seek shelter from those dirt storms unless you just had to work out in them as the dirt would hit you in the face, get in your eyes, etc.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Director's Chair

I'm posting the link to these interviews because some may not have the El Rey network on cable, and might like to see them.  I'm not sure what Robert Rodriguez plans to do with his series of The Director Chair interviews.  I'd guess release some sort DVD package with them later, but who knows?   It's a unique idea, and one of the better programming features to his El Rey network.  I wish they were a bit longer, however, and a bit more detailed.  But at least it's fun to see and hear what other director's have to say about their previous films.

From the looks of it, it appears the YT videos are bootlegged, in other words, I'd guess someone either taped them off the network or shot them from a cell phone off their TV screen as there's an annoying white glow in the middle of the frame.  Still if you'd like to peruse them and check them out, the links are below.

George Miller:

Robert Zemeckis:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Favorite Soundtracks

I ran across this Youtube video in what is known as their 'Vinyl Community'.  As I've mentioned previously there are several such communities of fandom on Youtube from comic books, DVDs to movies and music.  I've only scratched the surface to that sort of thing, but it would not surprise me if there weren't other sections devoted to antiques, doll collecting, toys, automobiles, or whatever other sort of collecting exist.  If there's one on Sci-Fi, I'd be interested in that as well, I just haven't run into that yet.  It would actually be a good idea if a SF community like that sprung up sharing their favorite movies, books, related toys, poster, etc.  Actually I find this recent phenomenon pretty cool.  As a collector and having that mentality, I'm always interested in what someone else collects and what they look for when adding to their collection. 

For example, I have quite a bit of vinyl, which I've collected over the years.  I know a lot of music lovers which have dumped their vinyl and either gone over to CDs or many music fans have just digitized their collection and keep them in that form some way.  I have a friend that has done that and put  most of his collection on a computer hard drive.  But for me, I just can't do that.  There's too many memories involved like where I was when I bought the album, or where I was at that stage of my life, not to mention the hours spent hunting for certain albums. Plus I still love the album art and just holding it in my hands.  I do own a few things that might be consider rare, so dumping them for me isn't a consideration.  

With the recent trend in vinyl collecting a lot of collectors, like the guy above, enjoys buying colored vinyl.  I have a few albums that are colored, but most are the standard black variety.  The Youtuber above mentions a few soundtracks I haven't thought of in a while (like his #1 pick), some which I probably overlooked or not consider much, but after watching his video, I might have to keep my eyes peeled for them the next time I'm out shopping for media.
One of my favorite shopping places for media in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area is Half-Price Books.  They began in Dallas, and have since spread throughout Texas and into other states as well.  Their huge flagship store is usually where I'll go first, but they have other locations in the metro area, and I'll generally hit one of two of them as the inventory can be different.  The store above is their newer location.  They originated not far from there, across the street if memories serves, in what used to be an old laundromat.  You can't beat their prices or for a good place to go just to browse for media that's all inclusive.

Speaking of books and media, I ran into this list today which is NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction books (although some of them seem more like fantasy to me, like Lord of the Rings).  Cheers.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A CoUPle oF qUicKieS

I've been surfing the net this morning as I often do--generally killing too much time on it.  But I need to get up as I want to start a piece of artwork that will be part collage and part painting (mixed media).  It seems the direction I'd like to experiment more with lately.  Sometimes I feel like there's too much art, until I see stuff that really stimulates me, which is more often than not.  And then I think wow, and want to try something, which is a good thing.

I wanted to point out a Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/Horror site I ran across today that I'll probably go back to as it had reviews, and some other cool stuff on it.  Check it out Cinefantastique.  I might be wrong, but it's possible it's remnants of the old magazine of the same name.  But I have not investigated it enough to know.

Here's another one, that is along the same line called Destination Nightmare.  It  has some old comics on there that you can read too, so that's fun, right?

The past few days I watched quite a few movies.  Here's a quickie rundown of what I saw:

 The documentary Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World was about H.R. Giger, the famed Swiss surrealist painter whose dark artwork was showcased in the Alien films, Species, Dune, and was also used on various rock album covers. Most of it takes place in Giger's creaky home and shortly before his demise. It includes friends, family, and acquaintances. It's a bit amorphous in its content, and I wish it had delved deeper into perhaps some other areas, like his technique on doing some of the art or his creative process. But perhaps it is as simple as the movie shows in one segment--he just sits down and doodles out a picture, and keeps embellishing that until he's satisfied.  But for what it was, and since I enjoy art so much, it was worth a watch for me.  Others might find it too dry or dull.
 The Gunfighter starred Gregory Peck as the famed gunfighter whose reputation proceeded him when he would arrive in towns, and therefore has other gunmen either challenging him all the time, or there's rumors about him like how many men he killed in cold blood or how ruthless of a man he was (mostly false). A large part of it takes place in one salon, and it's pretty dialogue heavy rather than containing loads of action, but it's still worthwhile.  Since I don't believe it's available on DVD and I'd never seen it previously, I was glad to catch it on TCM.
Most hardcore Sci-Fi fans might rip this film apart.  That said though I did find it enjoyable.  It's influenced by The Matrix with the kung fu fighting, which some might find silly as I did to a degree as well.   It's not really silly, it's just outrageous or you have to suspend your sense of disbelief, which if you cannot do that why watch Sci-Fi anyway?  (But, yes, I understand that too--we all have our thresholds of whether or not we think certain films go beyond that barrier.)   At any rate Equilibrium is a combination of many other films like THX-1138, The Matrix, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 among others.  It's a dystopian society that tries to extinguish a person's feelings as they think that leads to war and violence.  A silly notion, I'd agree.  Like I said there are a lot of things in this film that just don't make a lot of sense.  It's more style over substance, but despite it all, I got drawn into the film, and enjoyed the style and story of it.   It stars Christian Bale, whom I generally enjoy.
 At the first part of the week, I watched the first part to Ken Burns documentary, The Civil War, and then turned over to see what was on TCM. The Tin Drum was playing, which I'd seen bits of before, and I'm still not sure what I make of it, although I understand it's about the Nazi occupation.  However, it has surreal moments and weirdness in it. It sort of reminded me a little of the way maybe Forrest Gump was framed around the weirdness of some of his life & times or David Lynch. It's not a film for everyone, and plus you have to read the subtitles, but if you're looking for something a bit outside the box, it's different.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was quite a bit of fun.  It was adapted from the comic book limited series by Mark Millar, who has had other comics adapted into films.  The first being the film, Wanted, which was sort of about trained assassins and secret societies,and Kick Ass and Kick Ass 2, which were more or less super hero spoofs.  He does the same type send-up with Kingsman, but it's about the secret service and a 007 type character played by Colin Firth.  Basically Firth takes his nephew under his wing, who has drifted towards a criminal path, and induces him into the service.  Overall I thought it was quite funny in some scenes, and had a lot of action.  It's one of those films that gets crazier and crazier as it goes along. The scene in the church was pretty hilarious, and a good way to use Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird.  Who knew?
On Her Majesty's Secret Service was one of the James Bond movies I'd overlooked, but had been meaning to see.  They had a James Bond marathon over the Labor Day weekend, and I got to catch several I had not seen before.  On Her Majesty's was the best one of the bunch, along with Goldfinger, which they also showed, and may have moved up into my top five or so of James Bond favorite films.  I really enjoyed the Alps location and snowy scenes, George Lazenby's portrayal of Bond was excellent, Diana Rigg as Tracy was good in her supporting role, and it had good stunts, and Telly Savalas played a good villain, Blofeld.  Supposedly director Peter Hunt's first choice for the role of Tracy was Brigitte Bardot, but she had recently signed to star with Sean Connery in Shalako.  Catherine Deneuve was another early contender, but the filmmakers ultimately chose Diana Rigg, who had found fame on the TV series, The Avengers.  Nice choice.
The Lords of Salem is by director, Rob Zombie.  I can't say I'm much of a fan of the man's music or his past movies, however, I could see he was trying to do something different with this film.  For one, his saturation of color, and the way he shot different scenes was a big bump up from anything he'd done before.  I think I either read or heard, he's studied Stan Kubrick and used some of that influence on this film.  I could see that.  Sheri Zombie (Heidi) is the main actress in the film, and she does a pretty good job, also noticeable was a better script, with better dialogue, which I think a lot of his films have suffered from in the past.  The film's plot revolves around the Salem witch trials, and how the witches have this curse that is trying to manifest itself in the present day in the guise of an occult musical recording.  You are left wondering if Heidi is going mad, or what is happening.  All in all, a pretty good effort.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Tim Reynolds & TR3 at Infinity Hall

I usually watch a lot of music these days from my easy chair.  I get the best seats in the house.  A lot of it comes beamed in from PBS.  I'll watch the Austin City Limits concerts, and last year they had this new series called Live at Infinity Hall.  By chance I caught the concert by Tim Renolds, who I'd never heard of playing with his TR3 band.  It's just a three piece band, but wow, could they rock.  I was unprepared for how large a sound they created.  Tim Renolds looked about five feet tall, and weighed maybe 100 pounds wet, but he was a monster on guitar.  If you want to hear some rocking guitar, and a pretty cool concert, check out the link.  I couldn't figure out how to embed it, but here's a link. 

Fixin' Stuff

So last week we had a little rain storm towards the latter part of the week, however, that whole week had been pretty humid.  For this area of Texas, which isn't along the coast line and really we're pretty far up into central Texas so it amazes me how humid it can be compared to West Texas.  Then factor in the heat, and it can get pretty unpleasant.  The upshot of the recent storm we had last week though was that it lowered the temperature, which is much more tolerable and it gave the yard and shrubs around here a good soaking too.  But I noticed somewhere during that week that my remote control to my 42 inch Vizio TV was acting a bit wonky.  It was gradual at first, so I first thought, well, maybe it's the recent weather.  Sometimes you'd try to change the channel, and you'd have to do it a couple of times, or you'd hit the volume control and that didn't work--stuff like that.  As the days went on, however, it got more and more pronounced.  At first I didn't know what to think as this TV set is only three years old, which on one hand irritated me that products these days aren't made any better than what they are, and on the other hand, now what was I going to do?

Now I'm an old geezer, and remember well the days of old back and white TV sets, rabbit ears, only three channels, the coming of PBS and cable TV, color TV, VHS, Beta, and VCRs, and all those inventions.  Most of them are all good, give or take.  I also remember TV sets of the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00, 2010, up to now, and really, from what I remember, you really didn't have much problems with them over a good amount of time, particularly once color sets became the norm around the late 60's.   Needless-to-say, when a three year old TV set gives me problems these days, you have to wonder about technology, design flaws, and the reliability of some of this newer stuff.  Plus since it is practically a new TV set, I'm not of the mindset to just scrap it onto the trash heap, or take it down to Goodwill just because the remote control isn't working right.  Financially I guess I could do that, but mentally it irks me!

One of the good things about technology these days is the computer allows you to trouble shoot things, and also if you're in need of a new product you can peruse feedback and reviews of new products to help decide which might be the better, more reliable products.   Also a good default for fixing things are Google search, forums, and Youtube.  So I do a search and find out that evidently I'm not the only one, Vizio customers in general have had similar problems.   I actually found a phone number and gave Vizio a call to see if they might shed light on the situation--they did not, really.  The phone call hooked me up with a nice lady that told me to do several trouble shooting measures, which I'd already done:  Buy new batteries for the remote (I already done that), and buy a new remote too (already done).  I told her, actually I had another remote control and that it didn't work either, so she tells me to go ahead and buy another one--both of them could be faulty, and you never know when you might need another remote, or two, or three, or four.  Heck stock up, there could be an apocalypse sometime, so you never know.  Ouch, rub some salt in that wound.  Doesn't bode well for a repeated buy from me with Vizio products. 

So I visited a few forums and indeed there's a faulty part called an IR sensor.  It's just a small circuit board-type part, that basically is held on with one Phillips head screw, and then it plugs in to a cable running to a larger mother board or circuitry board.  It's an easy switch if you know what you are doing.  Luckily for me I found a video on Youtube to help in the repair:      So I order the part, and within a couple of days, switched it out and, mission accomplished!  Not only does my TV set work again like it's suppose to, but I feel a tad of pride in having fixed it.

While I was on a roll, I decided to peruse a video on YT about cleaning VCRs.  I happen to have two of them (I know, I'm one or two of the last holdouts).  One of them is a Sony that has a DVD player built into it, which I purchased at an estate sale a couple of years ago, and the other is a Proscan VCR, that's a stand alone VCR, but fairly new, so I might as well keep them working if I can.  Plus on Saturday nights on KERA, the PBS channel out of Dallas have been showing old Dr. Who episodes, many that I've not seen before from the Pertwee era, which I've really been enjoying.  They come on too late, at midnight to 2:30 am, so I just tape them and watch them later.  So I want my VCRs in good working order, and there are YT videos for that too.
My next thing that I've been looking at has been videos for a Rotozip saw or tool.  This is a tool with many applications, mostly cutting, and I've been curious about using it to cut some wood, and perhaps use it for making some sculpture.  I'm just now researching that, and organized materials, so we'll see if that yields any results.  I'm sure I'll probably have to practice on some scrap wood first just to get the hang of it, and figure out how to use it.  Granted the tool comes with a booklet, but the videos help the learning curve quite a bit.