Saturday, March 25, 2023

Music Reviews: Jimmy Donley

Skilled people aren't necessarily nice or moral people. Today many folks like to "cancel" people. Maybe the consumer doesn't like the artist's politics. Maybe the artist is abusive to family members or intimates. The artist might be racist or sexist. The artist might be violent. The artist might just be a low quality human being.

I don't think the value of a person's art or the level of their skill is determined by their morality. Flowers can grow from crap. We are all different mixes of good and evil. The worst and best of us are still human.

The troubled singer/songwriter Jimmy Donley (1929-1963), who committed suicide in 1963, was a mix of good and evil. The Mississippi born Donley was dishonorably discharged from the Army in the late forties/early fifties because of his racism towards a Black NCO. Think about how racist you had to be to kicked out of the Army in the mid 20th century! Nevertheless Donley later became good friends with Black rock-n-roll icon Fats Domino, occasionally writing for and singing with Domino in integrated bands. 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Movie Reviews: Theatre Of Blood

Theatre of Blood
directed by Douglas Hickox

Growing up back in the day I always thought that if one wanted to be an evil overlord one could do worse than model yourself after Vincent Price. Price was one of the most famous practitioners of the now archaic Transatlantic Accent. 

Price was also an actor who could simultaneously bring a tremendous amount of gravitas to almost any movie he starred in while also, if the role called for it, chewing the scenery with an unmatched manic hammy intensity. Price never made any good movie bad but he made quite a few bad movies good. 

Many of Price's villains were often insane, inbred, murderous, lustful, scheming, and completely malevolent but they were also almost always polite and possessed of remarkably good manners. Just because Price's character might be preparing to serve you your own kidneys is no reason for him to be uncivil or mean to you. Perish the thought! Price's characters were gentlemen! And so was Price in real life. He was the opposite of villainous.

Movie Reviews: The World The Flesh and The Devil

The World The Flesh and The Devil
directed by Ranald MacDougall

This is an apocalyptic movie with statements on society, fear, and race. Superstar actor and icon of cool Harry Belafonte also produced the movie. As
 this film was made in 1959, what was then likely daring and risk taking may appear less so to modern eyes. Or not. 

There are certain storylines that Hollywood was and is squeamish about investigating, both in 1959 and in 2023. Still, this film was unusual in featuring a reasonably well developed Black character. 

Extroverted or not we all need some human contact. Ralph Burton (Belafonte) is a mine inspector in Pennsylvania who is investigating a mine tunnel that has been shut down. After a cave-in Ralph can hear people digging to rescue him but then they stop. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Giant Steps Explained

I enjoy listening to John Coltrane's piece "Giant Steps" but as I am not a musician or someone who understands much musical theory my eyes would always glaze over when musically talented people tried to explain to me exactly why the work was challenging. So I ran across this explanation and for a few brief moments I think I barely understood some of the basic concepts being discussed. Or not. Either way I liked this video. I liked learning how math, music, and physics are all linked. And I like John Coltrane's music.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Movie Reviews: The First Power

The First Power
directed by Robert Resnikoff

Hollywood created a number of eighties and nineties movies that shared the theme of a bloodthirsty killer being caught and executed before coming back from the dead, possessing other people, and continuing to murder folks. 

Often the obsessed hero detective who was the person who tracked the murderer down in the first place had some strange link with the supernatural murderer. Now, left grasping at straws, the detective must struggle with reality. Maybe he really did arrest and help convict the wrong man. Maybe the detective is hearing strange things or having nightmares. Maybe the detective's wife or brother suddenly is speaking in languages they don't know.

Maybe the detective's over the top sexy but profoundly strange new girlfriend knows more than she's telling him. Maybe there's a cult of killers. Maybe the detective himself is the killer. These movies can vary widely in quality. There was Deliver Us From Evil, Shocker, The Horror Show, Virtuosity, and Fallen (the last two both starred Denzel Washington and were at the higher end of the quality spectrum).

Friday, February 17, 2023

Racist Ukrainians

I don't eat meat. I never ate pork. I have never liked eggs. Can't stand them. I find eggs' texture, look, and taste disgusting, along with their very concept. Eating chicken ova? Yuck. No thanks. However, if I were starving I wouldn't be so picky.

If some Good Samaritan offered me a hot plate of ham sausage, bacon, and scrambled eggs, I would graciously accept the food. I wouldn't throw it back at the Good Samaritan as if the food were raw sewage. It wouldn't be my preference but it would keep me alive. That's important.

One would think that Ukrainian refugees, running for their collective lives from their war torn country, would be happy to be allowed into another nation to live. One would think they'd be wise enough to keep minor complaints to themselves. One would be wrong. Apparently some Ukrainians really hate Black people and Asian people--and aren't shy about making this known.

Flaco The Owl

As more and more animal habitats are destroyed or compromised by human presence or activity there may be an increased need for zoos, sanctuaries, or wildlife parks/reserves where animals can be allowed to thrive. Of course sometimes animals escape captivity and do just fine, showing perhaps they never should have been in captivity in the first place. One Flaco the Owl made a recent jailbreak--flew the coop so to speak--and has so far avoided the nets and traps put out for him.

Halley Barton was at a dinner party with friends on Saturday night when someone in the group shared the news that the Eurasian eagle-owl Flaco had coughed up a pellet of animal matter — rat fur and bones — in Central Park.

“It’s really exciting to see him learning how to catch his own rats,” said Ms. Barton, a health care case manager who was at the park around 1 p.m. Monday for her first look at the black-and-orange bird of prey. She had followed his activities online before then.

After Flaco flew off on Feb. 2 — his mesh enclosure had been vandalized — zoo officials, bird watchers and everyday people worried that he might not know how to fend for himself. He had never done so in his 13-year life.