Why is it that just when things calm down after a protracted period of ridiculousness, you get sick? Or does it only happen to a select few of us who always have a project or seventeen on the go that we want to work on, just to frustrate the crap out of us? Whatever the case may be, it happened to me again just after the three-shows-in-one-day extravaganza, and that’s why things have been quiet around here lately. I didn’t have anything very interesting to say — or any news to report — while I was coughing all over the world.
Being sick did at least give me an excuse to go through all three seasons of Deadwood from the beginning again, so that was fun. If you haven’t seen that show and you have any interest in westerns, profanity, the use of the English language, nudity, and what is affectionately known as the “blowjob monologue”, you’re missing out. I first watched the show on a whim some years back to kill time while waiting for the season four premiere of Six Feet Under to come around.
Watching the first season finale of Deadwood without ever having seen any of the other episodes, I had no idea who the characters were or what the hell was being said half the time (the dialogue is not at all your typical dumbed-down “no character’s total vocabulary shall exceed thirty words” shit). But something about it grabbed me. I went back and watched the first season from the beginning, and after a few episodes my brain adjusted to the density of the language. Before too long Deadwood had supplanted Six Feet Under as maybe my favourite thing to ever grace the idiot box. I’m not sure I’ll ever find another television show that comes close for me, or another character as wonderfully complex as Ian McShane’s take on Al Swearengen. The music — incidental and otherwise — is pretty great too.
The point is, HBO are fuckheads for cancelling the show after only three seasons. If I had a subscription, I would have junked it with extreme prejudice right there. But I don’t. So I didn’t. Does HBO even have any good shows left anymore? Deadwood’s gone. The Sopranos and Six Feet Under are long gone. Oz is ancient history. The Wire is supposed to be good, but I’ve never seen it. I like Gabriel Byrne, but I don’t have the patience to catch up with all eight thousand episodes of In Treatment.
When did this turn into a blog about television without borders?
On that note (sort of), don’t ever watch Star 80 if you can’t handle horribly depressing movies. Myself, I have a hatred for happy ending-humping sugar-coated Hollywood bullshit that knows no bounds. I loved Hitchcock’s Rear Window up until the last five minutes or so, and then it jumped the shark for me out of nowhere. The ending was just too neat and tidy. So I’m all for a butter knife in the thigh of convention. But man…Star 80 is one movie that isn’t going to leave you with any good feelings when it’s over unless you’re a pretty sick puppy.
To quote the immortal Mickey Rourke, someone needs to give Eric Roberts another meaty role in a good movie and let him “show his shit” again, because the guy can act. He’s scary in Star 80. As slimy and depraved as his character is, he comes across as painfully human. You almost feel sorry for him in spite of his ultimately horrific, unforgivable actions. Which makes it even more unsettling. Dude has more talent in one of his toenails than his sister Julia has in her entire body.
He was on a roll for a while there in the early-to-mid ’80s with Runaway Train, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Star 80…and then it seemed like his career just descended into bad Hollywood and direct-to-video hell. Later came head-scratching cameos in music videos by Akon, the Killers, and Mariah Carey. Someone give the guy a part in a movie that isn’t dreck already. I mean, take a look at his IMDb page. Out of the almost two hundred movies and TV shows he’s been in, the ratio of “good” to “crap” skews very heavily in the direction of “crap”, so much so that the scale is probably warped to the point of looking like a snake trying to eat itself.
There’s been the occasional exception, like his guest bit on an episode of Oz. It’s My Party, in which he plays a man dying of AIDS who decides to take his own life, is really well done. And La Cucaracha is supposed to be a good little indie film. More recently there have been quirky small roles in Spun and The Dark Knight, but a real comeback along the lines of Mickey’s has yet to happen.
Though you have to admit, something like Best of the Best is pretty amazing in the best/worst “unintentionally cheesy” way. It has to be one of the all-time great comedy films that wasn’t trying to be a comedy. You’ve even got James Earl Jones doing his best to add gravitas to a movie that’s gravitas-repellent.
And speaking of that guy, it’s easy to forget, but once upon a time he was a serious actor as well. Another horribly depressing movie is The Great White Hope, based loosely on the Jack Johnson story. It’s maybe a little overdone in the melodrama department, but it’s still surreal to realize James can be a powerful, resonant actor when he wants to be, and not just “James Earl Jones playing James Earl Jones”. Maybe we’ll get to see it again someday when he decides to stop doing voiceover work almost exclusively while popping up in occasional bit parts in depressingly bad movies.
Enough film talk. Let’s talk about music.
As usual, I’m working on a few different things at once right now. The aim is to at least get an album out there sometime this summer, probably in July or August. Maybe there really is something to that “seasonal release” idea I floated here a while back after all. I would probably have a new album finished or almost finished by now, but some other things got in the way for a while. Part of me is glad. I think it might have helped to have a bit of a break for a change, instead of just diving into the next thing the moment I finished the last album. Sometimes it’s good to take stock and think a bit about where you want to go next. Not that it’s going to matter much in the end, since whatever I plan on doing always seems to find itself warped into something unrecognizable from what my original plan was by the time it’s finished…
Regardless, more new music is on the way. I’d tell you what to expect from it, but I don’t even know which projected album is going to get to the finish line first, so I couldn’t say. It could be something jazzy. It could be something synthy. It could be my idea of a rock abum. It could be a return to the folky/bluesy sort of thing that permeated CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN. Or it could be all of those things fused together. Only thyme will tell.
Finally, here’s something to watch and listen to. Pardon my Spanish, but this is how you play a fucking medley of hits. Nobody seems to know how to do it anymore without everything coming off sounding horribly truncated and lame. Let Sly take you to school, little children.