Saturday, October 24, 2009

Heart Has the Bangles, and the Bangles Have Heart

Back in the late eighties, when I lived in San Francisco, The Bangles were playing the Warfield, within walking distance (albeit a scary after-dark walking distance through the Tenderloin) from my apartment. But for various reasons, I didn't attend. I figured I'd have another chance in the future. Soon after that, the band broke up.

Twenty years later, I finally had my chance. Last night, Amy and I saw The Bangles, who shared a bill with a band I listened to throughout the seventies and eighties, Washington State's own Heart.

We tremendously enjoyed both bands. The Bangles look amazing when one considers they first hit the charts 25 years ago; and they sounded great (although they were a little rough on their opener, their cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter"). Their beautiful harmonies and crunchy-guitar-heavy melodic rock was as fun as it was when I was listening to it on cassettes in the eighties. One annoying event: Midway through, a guy behind us yelled, "Play 'Walk Like an Egyptian!'" Which is just plain rude, because (a) it implies every other song they were playing wasn't worth listening to and (b) obviously, they were going to play that song eventually -- as they did, at the end of their set.

Then came the Wilson sisters. The Bangles were great, but Heart is just in another league, both musically and in terms of show-person-ship. At an age where many rock vocalists are starting to lose their pipes, Anne Wilson can still deliver a full-souled chorus. Not only did they sing several of the band's hits, they also did two Led Zeppelin covers (included the throat-tearer "Immigrant Song") and The Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me" (another voice-devastating song).

Once in a while, I have to go to shows like this to remind me why I like rock music.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

George Tuska, R.I.P.

George Tuska began drawing comics in the late 1930's; and even as he entered his '90's he was drawing commissions from fans. After Gene Colan left the IRON MAN feature in the late '60's, Tuska became the principal artist for about ten years. One of the issues he drew circa 1971 became one of the first Marvel comics I owned. Yet another human piece of comic book history disappears.

Mighty Atom Hair

Today's L.A. Times included as an insert a trick-or-treat bag promoting the upcoming American CGI adaptation of Astro Boy (aka Tetsuwan Atomu, or Mighty Atom). Also included was an ad for a hair gel; and instructions for creating an Astro Boy hairdo with the gel. Seems that would be far more suited to the '80's.

Wild, Wild Life

Last night we saw "Where the Wild Things Are." (As often happens when we see movies at The Bridge, there were some production people from the film in the audience. They applauded wildly when their names went by in the credits.) Several thoughts:

1. It is not the story from the book. It has the basic framework of the book. But the concept of the place where the wild things are is completely different. No longer is it id without complication. Now it is id with severe ego complication.

2. It is an extremely well done movie. I don't know if it's possible to watch it without cringing at some summoned memory from your own childhood. Or adulthood.

3. It feels to a great degree like a kid's movie from the seventies. The piano-heavy soundtrack, the naturalistic lighting, and the concentration on tracking shots of running probably contribute to that.

4. Adaptations need not be faithful to be good.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Predator Predates Again

Robert Rodriguez’s Predator remake to star Adrien Brody and Topher Grace

Back in the mid-80's, a friend and I tried to get into a movie that was sold out, so instead we went to a different movie:  "Predator."  I went in knowing nothing about the film.  We came in perhaps 10 minutes after the movie started.  It turned out to be a bad war movie that turned into a pretty darn good monster movie. I didn't realize until years after watching "Predator" for the first time that one of the mercs who went into the jungle was played by Shane Black -- whom I had been in the UCLA Comedy Club with just a few years before.  (I probably should have realized it when he was shown in the closing credits reading a Sgt. Rock comic book -- with the words "Shane Black" next to him.)

 Now, Robert Rodriguez is remaking "Predator" with Adrien Brody in the Arnold Schwarzenegger role.  (???)  No word on whether he'll adopt a thick accent.  Or whether he -- like Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura, from the earlier movie -- will become a governor.  (And who will read the comic book this time?)

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wild Thing

Maurice Sendak rewrote the rules with 'Wild Things' --

Watching the touchy-feeley trailers for "Where the Wild Tnings Are,"  I wondered if director Spike Jonze had actually read the book, which always seemed to me more anarchic and rambunctious than touching.  But according to this L.A. Times article, author Maurice Sendak is supporting Jonze's vision of the book.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, October 02, 2009

Starbucks: V-I-A Is a Joke

So Starbucks has introduced the latest coffee innovation, the one the world has been waiting for with its collective breath bated: Instant coffee.

Oh, but it's Starbucks instant coffee, the company protests. It's better. It's indistinguishable from the coffee you get in a Starbucks store. And to prove it, they're putting on taste tests, where you get a couple ounces of their brewed stuff and a couple ounces of the Via instant coffee, and are challenged to tell the difference.

Since I'm in the Seattle area, the land of Starbucks, I decided to take the challenge. Make that the so-called challenge. Which one is the Via? The one that tastes like watery instant coffee. Sorry, Starbucks.