Category: Entertain Me

She’s a Brick

When I was in high school, I took a creative writing class with a wonderful teacher who nurtured his students and took the time to help them write their best stuff. One day, he asked the class to write a short story using as many clichés as they could. He would select the best stories and read them out loud to the class.

I made many attempts with tired clichés, but I couldn’t make anything work as a cohesive story. Until I thought about writing a story about a detective, like one of those old movies. At that time I’d never heard the term noir. I just remembered movies like Casablanca and Maltese Falcon and the atmosphere in those films. So I wrote my little detective story, used every clichéd scrap of language I could make up or remember, and turned it in.

The day came when he was reading out the stories, and I remember feeling slightly disappointed mine didn’t make it. Towards the end of class, he shut the lights off and turned the projector on in the back so it made a makeshift spotlight up front. Then he left the room. We were all quite puzzled and fidgety. When he came back in, he was wearing a fedora, a trenchcoat over a rumpled suit, and a lit cigarette. He walked to his desk at the front, leaned back in his chair and put his feet up.

Then he began to read my story. He read it while the smoke from his cig curled up around him. He spoke like Bogey. It was the most awesome moment in my high school career, and to this day, remains one of my best memories from those days, and began my appreciation for noir.

So when I saw the movie “Brick” I was blown away.

I absolutely loved this movie. The anachronistic use of noir-speak in a modern setting of high school was incredible. A loner kid tries to help his tragic ex-girlfriend who’s in trouble. He still loves her you see. Then she ends up dead and it becomes his mission to solve her murder. The movie’s got gangsters, thugs, dangerous dames, and beautiful tragedy. It was dark, it was funny, it was highly detailed and intricate.

See this movie. It’s fantastic.

I’m not afraid to admit it

I love this movie. Yes, I love the 1978 movie, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and I’ll tell you why. Well I don’t know if I can explain why I love this almost universally hated movie. People actually cringe if it’s mentioned. “They butchered the sacred band that is The Beatles” is the typical response. I don’t think so. I think it’s a novel take on a collection of weird Beatles songs. It’s such a time machine to the 70s really.

Now, I hate the 70s. That’s an entire decade that makes me cringe. But I have “issues” that I’m now coming to terms with and I’m starting to give up some of that hatred. It was brought home to me while preparing for Music Madness at the paper when I realized that there are a rather large number of songs from the 70s that I actually love. In my defense, I didn’t know they came out in that decade. Most cases, I never heard them til i was older and more aware of music which didn’t happen until the early 80s for me.

But I digress. I was talking about Frampton and the Bee Gees and Aerosmith and Alice Cooper, all of whom appeared/performed in the movie. Now, my mother was a huge Beatles fan, and listening to her old records growing up sort of made me mildly interested in them. It was seeing this movie that cultivated that interest. It came out in 1978, when I was 7. I don’t recall whether I saw it in the cinema, but I do remember it being on TV. I was fascinated with it. I was sort of developing a bit of a crush on Peter Frampton and Shaun Cassidy at the time. Nothing major – I mean, I was 7 for frak’s sake. (Sorry, been watching Battlestar Galactica.)

I loved the music in the movie. The Bee Gees were HUGE back then so I guess that’s the sound I was familiar with. But most of all, I loved the story. They made real characters out of songs! That amazed me. Billy Shears. Mr. Kite. Strawberry Fields. The Hendersons. Mean Mr. Mustard. Basically it was like they were dabbling their toes in the video waters that were to come along in a few years.

The movie’s basic plotline is this: Sgt. Pepper and his band came from a town called Heartland, and their music and their instruments were imbued with some kind of peace-making magic or something. Anyway, the band enjoyed over 50 years of happy times and good music until the tradition was passed on to Sgt. Pepper’s grandson, Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) and his friends, the Henderson brothers (the Bee Gees.)

Now, Billy is in love with a girl named Strawberry Fields, who is sweet and pretty and wholesome and the whole town and it’s citizens are right out of Mayberry. Until the boys get a telegram telling them that some bigwig in L.A. heard their music and invites them out to record an album. The band goes, and are soon exposed to all manner of corruption – drugs, sex, lots of money. At first the boys are overwhelmed and succomb.

Meanwhile, back in Heartland, the town has been taken over by Mean Mr. Mustard, a corrupt real estate agent who turns out to be under the thumb of F.V.B. he turns the town into a hotbed of arcades, hookers and foreclosures. His main goal though, is to steal Sgt. Pepper’s instruments which are housed in a museum at city hall. F.V.B. orders him to take each intrument to other corrupt people, which he does.

Now, Strawberry Fields has left home (‘She’s Leaving Home’) to find Billy and tell him what’s happening. When she finds him, she gets jealous when she sees the chick from another band (Lucy and the Diamonds) draped all over him. But eventually, she tells him and the band sets off to recover the instruments.

I know I said “basic plot” but I’m finding it requires a longer explanation. It’s a weird movie 🙂

They get the instruments back (and we get a couple great scenes in which Steve Martin, in his film debut, plays a psycho plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Edison, and his performance of ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ is fun, and Alice Cooper plays a brainwashing ex-crossing guard called Father Sun, and he performs ‘Because’ in a trippy, acidic way.)

Anyway, the band holds a benefit (for Mr. Kite 🙂 Kite is played by George Burns who is the town’s mayor and the film’s narrator.) for Heartland and Earth, Wind & Fire perform. But Mr. Mustard, who’s in love with Strawberry, kidnaps her and takes her to F.V.B. The boys are in pursuit.

Now, F.V.B stands for Future Villain Band in the standout scene that was my first-ever exposure to Aerosmith – and they scared me. Yes Aerosmith is F.V.B., and while Strawberry is tied to a wobbly electric dollar sign up on a platform, Aerosmith slither up the stairs singing ‘Come Together’ – and it’s fantastic and creepy and slightly sexually uncomfortable.

There’s a big fight between Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) and Steve Tyler and in the end, Strawberry is knocked off the platform and killed. As a seven year-old used to happy endings, this shocked me. It made me sad then, and I still get a little misty at this scene and the following scenes of her funeral (‘Golden Slumbers,’ ‘Carry that Weight,’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road.’) I’m afraid I always have and always will associate those three songs with the death of Strawberry Fields.

Gosh this is longer than I intended. Anyway to wrap it up, just as Billy is about to jump off a building to commit suicide, a Deus Ex Machina appears in the form of the town’s weathervane monument coming to life with magic powers to set everything right – including bringing Strawberry back to life. It’s actually Billy Preston performing ‘Get back’ and doing a nifty little boogie around the town square. Everyone’s happy again and for the finale, a plethora of Big 70s stars stand on a bunch of risers and sing ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Some big names in there too – like Tina Turner, Keith Carradine, Donovan, Carol Channing, leif Garrett (dreamy sigh – hey, I was 7!), Heart, Dame Edna, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, WIlson Pickett, Sha-na-na, and Wolfman Jack.

Now, I know I’ve made this out to be a very cool, very exciting movie not to be missed. I left out that it’s unbelievably cheesy, silly, requires some major belief suspension, and at times, kind of stupid. I revisit it every couple of years or so and it holds up for me, though some may beg to differ. But I will always love it.

Karavan of Dreams

So moving on…

This weekend, the kidlet performed with her tribal belly dance troupe at the city’s annual Ethnic festival (which is pretty much just a bunch of food booths and one or two places selling Native American stuff, along with all the educational stuff (Pro-life, pro-choice, Dems, Repubs, Library info) and some bouncy castles. And some bands and cloggers, and Highland dancers and belly dancers.

Here’s a couple videos of the belly dancers. The first one is the first song they did and the other one is four of the girls (including Shanster) dancing with their veils. I have more footage but man, youtube take forever to upload.

Pretty in Pink

I’ve never been a “pink” person, but on a website it can be fun. I was going to stick with the blues, but I never really warmed up to it.

Anyway, yes I did some rearranging around here. Again. I got a wild hair last night around 9:30pm and decided that I needed more than one sidebar for all my junk. Since this blog is serving as my website, I needed a place to put all this stuff. And I’m sure no one really gives a toss but me, but I felt I needed to ‘splain.

So last night around 3am I was rudely awoken by the sound of hammers and rocks being chucked at my bedroom window which is right above my head and I was forced to flee. I don’t know who decided 3 o’clock in the morning was a good time to have a hailstorm, but who ever it was, I’d like a word.

I’m having mucho fun with the new camera that has so many settings I’ll never use them all. I took pictures of stuff in my house because I’m thinking of replicating (which sounds so much better than ‘stealing’) Dooce’s Daily Style posts. Not only can I practice macro photography, but as I was looking around last night, i realized, Hey, I have some neat stuff. Ok so I have some geeky stuff too. The up close and personal pic of a toy Dalek on my bookshelf may only interest Who fans, but I could also showcase a lot of my mother’s artwork I have hanging around.

If anyone’s wondering how I’m doing on the whole CherryPop story, I’m not doing so hot. I’m having motivation issues. I’ve written a few more ficlets and several attempts at starting the story (one of which is actually working for me) but I let myself get distracted. I’m wondering if I should just force myself to write. No internets, put the new camera away, unplug the Wii, no swimming (see? I do get out of the house on occasion) and write. Maybe start with 1 hour of writing and work up if I get on a roll. I keep thinking I’ve got to do it, and how cool it would be to actually finish it and the great sense of accomplishment I’ll have whether I publish it or not. And yet, something, some kind of block is going on in my head that won’t let me dig in and do it. I don’t understand it, and it’s pissing me off too.

So that’s where CP stands. I haven’t blogged as her either. Feeling guilty about that. Argh.

Bellydancer

The kidlet had her first bellydance recital last night and it was wonderful 🙂 I love watching her dance. She really has a natural grace and beauty when she dances which surprises me because I am a clumsy oaf. So I’ve no idea where she gets it from.

The organizers said no videotaping during the performance – mainly so they could film it and sell the DVDs but hell with that. The entire program of fluffy tot ballerinas, bellydancer, cloggers young and old, and hiphoppers was 2 and half bloody hours long. Of that, Shannon was on stage for one song.

So I tried to be stealthy girl, only to discover later that quite a lot of other parents were stealthily filming their kids’ sections as well. Besides, I’m not exactly worried about the YWCA cops booting me out. I stayed for the whole show damnit 🙂

So here is my little girl, shining on stage 🙂 For those of you who know her, you might be able to pick her out (I had to sit near the back with my grandparents who are too wobbly to manage the downhill slope to the closer seats) but for anyone who doesn’t know her, she’s the second dancer to come out front and perform, wearing a green top, black skirt, and she’s the one spinning when the music changes to a faster tempo.

Looks like fun doesn’t it? If you listen closely, you can hear my gran ask me if I thought Shan was going to lose her skirt 🙂 This really worried her. Hehe.