Wednesday, January 30, 2013


IN HONOUR OF DOCTOR WHO'S 50th ANNIVERSARY, THE ROYAL MAIL IS ISSUING DOCTOR WHO STAMPS!  Each of the 11 incarnations of the Doctor are receiving their own stamp:  William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith.  Now THAT'S what I call officially announcing Doctor Who as a British institution!
And even the Doctor's villains are horning in on the celebration; four of the Doctor's villains are receiving their own 2nd class stamps. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


BOO HOO!!!  The latest episode of the terrific music podcast "ALL TIME TOP TEN" was one of the best so far; it features host Ben Eisen and guest David Daskal (of the band XYZYX -- check out their great new single "Kirk Cameron" on youtube) each chose the top ten songs that make them cry.  And the show revealed something really interesting about the completely subjective response we all have to music and how there's no equation which can demonstrate why something makes us cry.  So I thought I'd totally rip off the idea . . . only in my case I'll make it 25 songs instead of 10.  Hey, that's what Hollywood calls "homage", right?  So by all means go right now and listen to the latest "ALL TIME TOP TEN" podcast (as well as all the other episodes because they're great and always fascinating).  And this episode, as I say, was particularly fascinating as it was the most emotionally honest and personally revealing topic so far; the choosing of the songs that make one cry leaves one quite exposed.  Especially if you're a big tough guy like me who eats punks like you for breakfast!   Sniff.

So without further boo-hoo, I'll provide my top 25 songs that make me cry (and YES, they ARE in order with number one being the boo-hooingest) and I'll put all the songs over there in the box on the right for you to listen to.  And remember, songs that make you cry do not have to be necessarily sad.  And while some of these are definitely sad songs, others on my list (as well as the "ALL TIME TOP TEN" guys) can make you cry because they make you very happy or they're associated with a particular personal thing or else the music is just so unbelievably beautiful (and all of these occur on my list).  And I guess I'll do my list in reverse order too so my number one song appears last.  So here goes -- hankies at the ready...
  • 25)  SPOON RIVER by Steve Goodman  --  an exquisitely beautiful and innocent, lilting waltz which is just so gorgeous that it makes me cry.  Another of those songs about the Civil War but this time the nightmare is being us as we attempt to pick up our lives and continue on into the sunny morning.  Also Steve Goodman's tragic early death adds another heartbreaking aspect to the song.
  • 24)  GRACE by Jonathan Elias featuring James Taylor  --  I guess this one reveals something of a spiritual yearning on my part.  Emerging from "THE PRAYER CYCLE" album by Jonathan Elias which features scads of guest artists like Nusret Fatah Ali Khan and Alanis Morissette, this one allows Sweet Baby James' pure voice to meld with a full English Chamber Chorus of human voices and the viruoso guitar of John Williams while we float upon that stormy sea.
  • 23)  VON (LIVE)  by Sigur Ros  --  Don't have a clue what the words mean (not being able to speak Icelandic) and I don't really need to know.  The sound of the soaring vocals teamed with the strings and the rum-tum-tum of the drumming makes me soar into the blue sky above any problems.  At least during the song's duration.  The operative version is the "acoustic" version which appears in the film "HEIMA" and is to be found on the Sigur Ros album "HVARF-HEIM".
  • 22)  HURT by Johnny Cash  --  Can anyone forget the devastating video which reduced Trent Reznor himself to tears.  But the power is also here in the music and the unflinching performance by the Man In Black.  Particularly that relentless pounding piano at the end.
  • 21)  STORMS by Fleetwood Mac  --  the sound of a relationship cracking up on an icy glacier.  Stevie Nicks' vocal sounds resigned as well as hurt.  And most importantly, she doesn't lay blame on someone else.
  • 20)  SPOSA SON DISPREZZATA by Cecilia Bartoli  --  Vivaldi's stunningly beautiful song performed expertly by Bartoli as she voices her bewilderment at the wrongs done her.  "I am a scorned wife, faithful yet insulted.  Heavens, what did I do?  Yet he is my love, my husband, my beloved, my hope."
  • 19)  HE STOPPED LOVING HER TODAY by George Jones  --  OK, one of the ultimate country tearjerkers.  Whoa!
  • 18)  DELIVERY DELAYED by Stan Rogers  --  the first of two appearances of the late great Stan Rogers on this list (and both songs are from the same album concert, as well!).  Here we have an extremely beautiful lyric about birth ("How early is beginning?") paired with a spare guitar accompaniment which suddenly swells to a crescendo as the reaching for love is met with love in return.  Then, of course, there's the added sorrow of Stan Rogers' tragic death in an airline fire.
  • 17)  SILENCIO by Ibrahim Ferrer & Omara Portuondo  --  Two of the stars of the Bueno Vista Social Club duet on this achingly gorgeous song by Rafael Hernandez.  And also, another thing, the song makes my mother cry as well.  "Hush, the lilies and purple flowers are sleeping.  I don't want them to know of my sorrow, for if they see me crying, they will die."  In the film, both Ferrer and Portuondo are crying by the end of the song.
  • 16)  GHOST IN THIS HOUSE by Alison Krauss  --  a song for the dumped (sorry, Ben Folds . . . but your turn on this list will come a little higher up).  The best description in song I've heard of the emotional, mental and physical shutdown that occurs sung in Krauss' ghostly voice.  "I'm living proof of the damage heartbreak does."  I have here the live version simply because a) I can't find the original version at the moment and b) the live version is practically identical.
  • 15)  THE LAST SONG by Elton John  --  the first single which decided Elton John to denote the proceeds for all his future singles to AIDS research.  Used effectively at the end of the fantastic HBO movie "AND THE BAND PLAYED ON".  A brief song that packs a punch describing love and reconciliation.  The brevity of the song arrives and is gone before you know it . . . like the too many who have died.
  • 14)  DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE FROM ME by Frank Sinatra  --  just a sadly beautiful song about heartbreak once again.  Not only Frankie's crushed vocals make this one but also the fact that it was a favourite of my late friend Peg. 
  • 13)  THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES by Queen  --  The quiet acceptance of the passing of time and not to waste it.  Freddie Mercury's vocal is just so contented and happy (coming so soon before his death) and Brian May's absolutely perfect guitar solo in the bridge make this perfect.  And also, the live version sung by Lisa Stansfield and George Michael has the same affect on me. 
  • 12)  LATE by Ben Folds  --  See, Ben, I told you you'd make the list.  One of the most beautiful and sad songs Folds has recorded (and there ARE quite a few!).  This one is his tribute to Elliot Smith and deals with death in general.  All the things he'd like to say to him but it's too late. 
  • 11)  BLACK by Pearl Jam  --  This is my favourite song.  Why is it all the way down at number 11???  Well, because this is a list of songs that make me cry and not my favourite songs, that's cuz why.  It's another song about heartbreak ("I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody else's life but why, why, WHY can't it be mine") and there's just so much power and emotion in Eddie Vedder's vocal as it builds to absolute frantic helplessness. 
  • 10)  IF I COULD REACH YOU by The 5th Dimension  --  this is my nominee for the second saddest song ever recorded.  What's number one?  Keep reading.  Marilyn McCoo's devastating vocal is almost too much to bear as we hear a woman desperately in love with a man who doesn't love her.  "And if I could reach you someway, if I knew the magic it would take to love you good enough on the outside to make you feel it on the inside, maybe I could make you stay."  And the utter bleakness of the final line in the song just tears you apart. 
  • 9)  FIRST CHRISTMAS by Stan Rogers  --  this is my nominee for THE saddest song ever recorded.  And why is it number nine?  Well again, because this is a list of songs that make me cry; some other time I'll do one about the saddest songs ever.  This is again from the same concert as "Delivery Delayed" and I must warn you MOST STRONGLY NEVER TO LISTEN TO THIS AT CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!  It is absolutely NOT a Christmas song and if you listen to it then you'll slash your wrists with mistletoe!  I'm not going to spoil it for you but just listen to all the lyrics carefully; and especially the final verse about the old man which is devastating! 
  • 8)  TIME AFTER TIME by Margaret Whiting  --  I've decided that this is my 4th favourite song of all time.  Having said that, I'm always torn between this version and the Frank Sinatra recording.  It is just the nicest, happiest song about how lucky two people are to have found each other.  Unless, of course, you haven't found someone then the yearning for such happiness will reduce you to tears.  Like me.
  • 7)  WISH YOU WERE HERE by Fleetwood Mac  --  This song has an intense personal reason for being here.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.
  • 6)  I STARTED A JOKE by The Bee Gees  --  An absolutely astonishing song.  How ever did they think of those lyrics?!?!?!?  There's just nothing like it I've ever heard before.  As stated on the "ALL TIME TOP TEN" podcast, Robin Gibb's son came home and listened to this song after his father's death and dissolved into a pool of tears.  How can a song be this sad and this funny at the same time?!?!?!  I just can't describe what's going on in this song.
  • 5)  NO PLACE TO FALL by Townes Van Zandt  --  this song gets me from the very first verse.  "If I had no place to fall and I needed to, could I count on you to lay me down?"  Perfect blend of lyrics with a tune conveying the same thing as the words.
  • 4)  ASIMBONANGA by Johnny Clegg  --  this is a song Clegg recorded back in the 80's referring to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in South Africa.  The title means "you were here but now I don't see you anymore"; in other words, you're one of the "disappeared".  However, the version that REALLY gets me is not the original but the live version performed at the 46664 concert in 2002 with some tentative but heartfelt help from Peter Gabriel.  There is this one shot of a woman in the audience singing along and crying that destroys me!
  • 3)  LIVE LIKE HORSES by Elton John & Luciano Pavarotti  --  this song makes me cry because it offers hope that someday I'll actually be happy.  I'm a natural pessimist so I need songs like this.  One day I hope we'll be able to break free of those old iron fences and run happily towards the sunny, open vistas.  I'm frankly living for that day.  This song soars! 
  • 2)  I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS by Joe Brown  --  performed by Joe Brown with his humble ukulele at the close of the "CONCERT FOR GEORGE", this song is just so heartbreakingly beautiful and simple; that coupled with the association now with the death of George Harrison.  This song means to me now something totally different from it's original intent:  while those who have died are no longer here with us, I'm still able to see them in my dreams".  This performance of this song never fails to reduce me to a snivelling wreck.
  • 1)  NO MORE DRAMA by Mary J. Blige  --  this is my second favourite song behind "BLACK".  It came out when there was A WHOLE LOT of drama going on in my life and I was pretty much a shredded mess!  It represents the yearning for the horrendous drama to stop finally and a chance to be actually happy and content.  This song reduces me to uncontrollable sobs because of the power of Blige's vocal performance; particularly if you ever get to see her do this live on the Jools Holland programme.  A stunning performance.
So there you have it.  And now that I've rather bared my soul with this list, I'd love to hear what songs make YOU cry.  No need for an entire list of 25 songs but if there's one particular song (or 2 or 5) that make you cry, why not leave it in the comments section?  I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, January 21, 2013



I suppose that's the best way to experience the movie since I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd seek it out deliberately.  I remember a couple years ago, when I first heard they were thinking of doing a Three Stooges movie, thinking "What for?" and now, after having seen the film, I still cannot answer that question.  I seem to recall in the last ten years there was another Three Stooges movie that had "The Commish" in it but I believe that was more an biographical picture (I didn't bother to see it); this 2012 movie is not like that.  It is a comedy by the Farrelly Brothers (who have done some movies called "DUMB AND DUMBER", "THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY" and "ME, MYSELF & IRENE") which is a feature-length Three Stooges short done in the style of the originals but taking place in the present day.  Remember "THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE"?  Kinda like that.  While not really a fan of "THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE", I will say that one thing that really worked about it for me was portraying the bizarre, almost alien-like time-trapped Bradys transposed into the modern (1990s) world as an anachronism.  That does not happen with THE THREE STOOGES.  Moe, Larry and Curly are not characters from the Depression suddenly dropped into the present day; they are modern characters. . . well, all this isn't really important. 

The thing that puzzled me about the film and kept me in a constant see-sawing between my constantly about to change the channel and finding my bewildered interest keeping me glued there watching it was my attempt to figure out what I was watching.  Because it is not, when all is said and done, a terrible film.  There are some funny moments.  And the impressions of the Stooges are more or less quite impressive; "WILL AND GRACE"'s Sean Hayes as Larry and "MAD TV"'s Will Sasso as Curly are not bad while Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe is downright spooky in his vocal imitation (less so physically but he can't really help that).  The cast really gives it 100% and they really buy into the concept.  But what is the concept exactly?  The film reminded me a little of "BRAIN DONORS"; a film which I have a deep affection for.  BRAIN DONORS was something of an homage to the Marx Brothers updated to modern day (1990s).  But here, I think, is the sticking point for me.  BRAIN DONORS was not a modern Marx Brothers movie in sense that John Turturro plays a character which is very like Groucho Marx but does not look like Groucho or imitate his voice.  Mel Smith plays the equivalent of the Chico Marx character but speaks in his own English accent while Bob Nelson plays a mute character equivalent to Harpo Marx but dresses nothing like Harpo's character.  However, BRAIN DONORS is clearly meant as an homage to the Marx Brothers and as something like a Marx Brothers movie from the 1990s viewed through a prism.  Whereas THE THREE STOOGES movie features characters named Moe, Larry and Curly who look, act and speak as much as possible like Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine.  And this is perhaps what is confusing me.  Because they are NOT Moe Howard, Curly Howard or Larry Fine so why are they playing them?  I think the film would've been more enjoyable for me if the actors played three entirely new characters a la BRAIN DONORS and kept the script and slapstick jokes unchanged.  As I said, there is some funny stuff in the film; not enough to make it a comedy classic but there were several instances when I actually laughed out loud.  Of course, if the actors played new characters then the name of the film wouldn't be "THE THREE STOOGES" and the built-in box office draw would've been reduced considerably.  And that, perhaps, is more to the point:  Hollywood's seeming incapability of coming up with one original idea and it's continued mining of old movies to "remake" and old TV shows to "movie-fy".  And while THE THREE STOOGES isn't as dismal as most of Hollywood's TV-to-Movie efforts ("SGT. BILKO" anyone?), it does illustrate for the umpteenth time Hollywood's complete dearth of imagination.  And it does leave me still with the feeling after an hour and a half of viewing the movie -- "What exactly was the point?"  But of course we all know the real answer to that question is the dollar.  So that's perhaps where I should leave it.   

Monday, January 14, 2013


For the last several years, I've been posting my top ten favourite films released a half century earlier.  This is not my list of "the greatest" films but simply those favourites which I revisit and rewatch again and again and again; slipping them on like a comfortable pair of slippers.  These are the films (in alphabetical order) which I like to live inside over the years and never tire of seeing.


  -  There are other, better Hitchcocks but the twisted charm of this one - a movie I've been watching since I was a kid - can't be denied.  The great Rod Taylor anchors this one.  And there's also another instance of Hitch "borrowing" from another film; this time its the birthday party scene which is VERY similar to one in NIGHT OF THE DEMON.  Compare and contrast, folks.


  -  one of my most beloved films of all time.  Roger Corman and Jacques Tourneur gather Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone in a faux Poe comedy tour de force.  Joyce Jameson is blowsy and quite funny; her fight scenes with Vinnie are little jewels.


  -  I don't know what it is about this movie that I love so much.  Possibly it's the mere fact that it's just a silly excuse for John Ford and John Wayne to make another film together in a tropical paradise with scattered bar fights involving Lee Marvin and Victor McLaglen and yet another chance to knock the leading lady on her rump.


  -  I've never been much of a James Bond fan but this movie is hard to argue with.  Of the Connerys, it's surely the best.


  -  has anyone ever had more fun with a World War II prison camp movie???  Not me.


  -  One of my favourite horror films of all time.  Robert Wise does his Val Lewton homage with an expertly judged and balanced touch.  Julie Harris and Claire Bloom give it major class and credentials.


  -  a modern-day contemporary Kurosawa and a tense kidnapping movie.  And don't forget the shot that was "homaged" from this film into SIN CITY.


  -  Is this the greatest Ray Harryhausen production.  It'll be hard to argue against it. 


  -  I wasn't too sure about this movie the first couple times I saw it.  It took several more viewings before I was totally immersed in Ingmar Bergman's bizarre otherworldy hotel with the air seemingly sucked out of it.  The concluding chapter in Bergman's so-called "God's silence" trilogy.  Part two is directly underneath this.


  -  The middle film in Bergman's "God's silence" trilogy is also my second favourite film (or sometimes my favourite . . . it and L'ECLISSE sometimes swap places at the top of my list).  Devastating and fascinating.

Monday, January 07, 2013



Now that the box seems to be working, I wanted to post some music here for your listening pleasure.  This is just a random sampling of some music I've been listening to and thought you might like hearing too.  The plan is to post a new playlist every month.  What we have this month is a rather eclectic mix:
  1. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT  -  Aretha Franklin
  2. AROUND THE BEND  -  The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
  3. STAR NAMES  -  Benny Hill
  5. LATE BAR  -  Duran Duran
  6. I'D RATHER BE BURNED AS A WITCH  -  Eartha Kitt
  7. FUNTIME IN BABYLON  -  Father John Misty
  8. THE RELUCTANT CANNIBAL  -  Flanders & Swann
  9. BEWARE OF DARKNESS  -  George Harrison
  10. THE BIRD  -  Jimmy McGriff
  11. THE KISS  -  Judee Sill
  12. DOLLIA  -  Louis Killen
  13. MACBETH FOLLIES (excerpt)  -  Orson Welles
  14. FREERIDE  -  The Soundtrack of Our Lives
And check back once in a while because I will very likely add a song or two now and then before the month is over.  Enjoy and tap your tootsies!  

Friday, January 04, 2013


"And what are we but our fathers' sons and daughters?  We are the Victorian legacy.  Our materialism, our lack of spirituality, our grossness, our mockery of art, our utilitarian attitude to education, even the dull grey suits wrapped around the dull grey lives of our eminent City men, are Victorian hand-me-downs.  Many of our ideas of history and society go back no further than Victorian England.  We live in a money culture because they did.  Control by plutocracy is a nineteenth-century phenomenon that has been sold to us as a blueprint for reality.  But what is real about the values of a money culture?

Money culture recognises no currency but its own.  Whatever is not money, whatever is not about making money, is useless to it.  The entire efforts of our government as directed through our society are efforts towards making more and more money.  This favours the survival of the dullest.  This favours those who prefer to live in a notional reality where goods are worth more than time and where things are more important than ideas. . .

        . . .Why have we submitted to a society that tries to make imagination a privilege when to each of us it comes as a birthright?"

                                                      -- JEANETTE WINTERSON
                                                                   "ART OBJECTS"