Monthly Archives: February 2018

Movies I’ve seen…

I saw three movies recently:  one new and two old.

First was BLACK PANTHER.  My kids love Marvel superhero movies, and so I get dragged to a lot of them.  This one was no exception.  Yes, there are plenty of plot holes (if you want to know what they might be, go watch one of those “How It Should Have Ended” type videos where some witty You-Tuber analyzes the film.  I particularly liked the one that ended up being an economic tutorial which discussed the Wakondan monopoly on vibranium) but it’s a movie that addresses some serious issues and manages to entertain the hell out of you with tons of cool special effects and more action than most movies.  The actors are mostly good to great in quality, and I had fun watching it — more than I thought I would, because I’m NOT a huge fan of the superhero movies.  (I like them, but I’m not obsessed with them.)

The second movie I watched on YouTube, and it was called “Two of Us.”  As you might guess from the title, it’s about Paul McCartney visiting John Lennon in NYC on the day that SNL’s Lorne Michaels made his legendary offer of $3000.00 for a Beatles reunion on their stage.  It was an interesting character study which is loosely based (meaning, no one really knows what really happened that day) on real events of that day.  The actors had the mannerisms of their subjects down pretty well.  Aiden Quinn’s gestures were all pure McCartney. 

The last movie was one I watched on demand with my younger son the sports fanatic.  He wanted to watch MAJOR LEAGUE, and I agreed.  It’s not a great movie, but it IS a funny movie.  Lots of swearing and inappropriate jokes, but it was still funny after seeing it a number of times.  Charlie Sheen is very good as Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, and Wesley Snipes is also good as Willie Mays Hayes.  The locker room and baseball scenes are the best parts of the movie.  You need to laugh?  This is one movie that can succeed in making you do so.

And that’s it for today. 


The Beatles

I know, this is supposed to be a writer’s blog.  I’m supposed to be posting stuff about what I’m working on, what’s ready for release, what’s already out there.  Maybe some stuff on the process of writing, and of course on other writers’ books and indie publishing. 

So what is this about a 1960’s pop band? 

Well, I haven’t been writing much — I’m not in a creative place, mentally, and the stories I have going are sort of stuck with me not having a clear picture of where to go from here.  But I have been reading a lot, and I’ve been listening to a lot of music.  Well, a lot of Beatles music.  I treated myself to a year of Sirius XM radio in the car, and I keep it tuned to the Beatles Channel (18), where I’ve been hearing lots of stuff I never heard before.  Not so much the Beatles’ tunes, but the covers, the stuff that influenced them, and the solo stuff from John, George and Ringo (I have almost everything Paul recorded as a solo artist and with Wings).

But with the Beatles songs that I am very familiar with (and those that I have a passing familiarity with), I’m hearing stuff that I didn’t know about them.  Alternate versions, information about when and how they were recorded, who played on them, what inspired them…that sort of stuff.  And as I listen to the songs, I realize how “loose” some of them are.  Even the later stuff.  There’s vocal stuff that was “thrown in” and left there, doesn’t sound rehearsed and is maybe a little off time or off key, but it works.  There are guitar parts and harmonies that weren’t perfect, bass lines that were a little sloppy at times, that weren’t cut and pasted like so many modern songs’ individual parts are. 

Most stuff I have listened to has a certain level of perfection in the recording itself.  Even the new wave/punk stuff.  It’s like even the parts that sound “sloppy” sound rehearsed, like they’d do the exact same sloppy bit every time.  I’ve been in the studio myself, recording on pro-level setups, and I remember doing a keyboard part that sounded perfect the first time I did it, and less so on subsequent takes.  The sound engineer (Craig Williams of Dr. CAW studios) took that first one, copied it, then pasted it everywhere in the song that it was supposed to be, about two or three other spots.  He’d then tweak it till it lined up perfectly and get rid of my original playing and just copy the good one in.  He did that with vocals and guitar licks and other things as well. 

There’s none of that in the Beatles’ recordings.  There seems to always be a spontaneity to each song, a joyfulness that you don’t hear in a lot of studio music.  There’s an interplay between John and Paul that comes through on a lot of songs, even later stuff when they were not the best of mates. 

This morning I heard “Hello Goodbye” and “All You Need Is Love” on the radio, back to back, and I became aware of this imperfection, but it didn’t matter.  The song was the song.  They both stand up incredibly well today as songs.  They didn’t have to be perfect because they were so strong on their own.  They’d be good if they were just being strummed on an acoustic guitar and hummed.  In fact, I have a couple CD’s by a guy named Lawrence Juber, who played in one of the incarnations of Paul’s Wings, and he does Beatles songs on acoustic guitar, no vocals, no other instruments, and they work!   

I am constantly amazed at the depth and joy I am finding in their work. 

On to more Beatles listening…



What I’ve been reading…

I have been doing more reading than writing, though I did get a few thousand words written on my Addison Falls story. 

One of the authors I’ve been reading is V.J. Chambers.  She is a talented storyteller and a very good writer.  I’ve read both of her “Innocence Unit” books, GRAIN OF TRUTH (book 1) and TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES (book 2).  I also read a couple of horror stories by her, first BRIGHTER, about a small town which is very difficult to leave, then RATCATCHER, a modern day take on the Pied Piper mythology, featuring a rock star as the Piper.  I also read her female serial killer novel called THE FEMININE TOUCH.  All five were worthy reads. 

Chambers’ Amazon page is HERE

I also read Anni Taylor’s THE SIX.  It was a thriller about a woman addicted to gambling who is offered a chance for treatment on a Greek island in an old monastery.  Not only will she go through some unconventional therapy, she will also be paid as she wins challenges.  It goes from something seemingly plausible to something a little more exotic.  But it was still a lot of fun to read. 

Last, I finally finished up Christopher Moore’s THE SERPENT OF VENICE, which is an irreverent retelling of some Shakespeare stories with a little Poe tossed into the mix.  It started a little bit slowly, but once it kicked into gear, I could barely put it down. 

Several good reads recently, mostly for my Kindle.  (The Moore title was a remaindered hardcover.)