Oh, the awe-inspiring horribleness of it all…

For as long as I remember, I have been a fan of the Beatles.

But in my youth, that love may have expressed itself…in unnatural ways.

For instance, I can remember in 1979 or 1980 watching repeatedly, almost obsessively on HBO.

Haven’t seen it in the intervening 30+ years.

I noticed at some point in the none-too-distant past that it had showed up on Netflix, and I felt compelled to watch it…you know, For Science.

I would say that it hasn’t aged well, but really, it wasn’t good from the very moment it was released. Mess doesn’t describe it—this may be the Plan 9 from Outer Space of musical movies.

Still, I will commend to you the three actual good parts: Earth, Wind & Fire performing “Got to Get You Into My Life”, Aerosmith performing “Come Together”, and Billy Preston performing “Get Back”. They all come later in the film, so I recommend judicious use of the fast-forward option.

Oh, wait, I nearly forgot! You also shouldn’t miss the utterly inexplicable group reprise of the title song at the end of the film—it includes, among others, Curtis Mayfield, Heart (though—I’m not making this up!—they only show the male members of the band; I saw these three rock-and-roll guys who seemed a little familiar, and it wasn’t until I read the credits that I realized why I couldn’t place them, because, you know, they’re the least identifiable members of that band), Stephen Bishop (as the Awkwardest White Man In The Universe—you’ll know which one I’m talking about), Rob Lowe (sorry, no, that’s a young Robert Palmer), Johnny Winter, Tina Turner, a very confused Carol Channing…and a host of others.

It is magnificent in its randomness.

Frankie Boyle interviewing Grant Morrison…

OK, there’s a certain amusement from the fact that much of this interview verges in incomprehensible because, well, Scottish accents. Serious Scottish accents—none of this Hollywood Scottish accent shite.

But I actually think this interview is worth your 30 minutes. As a hook, I’ll point to the moment when Frankie Boyle suggests the idea that all the Batman stories ever written are just the dying moments of Bruce Wayne, age 5, dying in the street when he’s been shot along with his parents.

Here’s the player

Disinterring the past…

Going through a bunch of old files with the intent of scanning what was needed, and shredding what wasn’t, I ran across this interesting artifact, from my first PC (which is, of course, distinct from my first computer):


I even took advantage of it…

Even more amusing was the detritus of my 20-years-gone flirtation with OS/2.

Books of 2014, #3: Killing Floor, by Lee Child (Jack Reacher #1)

If anyone wasn’t completely certain that I was reading (and am now ripping off) Chet’s posts about books last year, then this book selection will probably eliminate any doubts.

I was looking for some low-effort entertainment, and based on the fact that the movie had been completely watchable, and that Chet has apparently read all of them, I figured that the Jack Reacher novels were at least unlikely to offend me terribly, since Chet tends to be somewhat more sensitive to such things than I.

And indeed, while it seemed obvious that Killing Floor was a first novel, the things it did wrong or poorly were at least different things than most first novels. The prose, while choppy, had the virtue of at least not being purple. There were occasional word choices that, if I had not already known “Lee Child” was British would have clued me in—but no epic missteps.

The plot…ehhh, in many ways, the less said about the plot the better. It was serviceable. It caused things to happen, caused conflicts to arise, even if much of it felt kind of forced.

I do intend to read the second—i get the impression from Chet that they do get better—and I hope that, as I gleaned from Childs’ introduction to this novel, the rest of them aren’t in first person.

I will add, though, that if anyone needs a long series of books to keep them busy, you owe it to yourself to read Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey & Maturin novels. I flat out don’t care whether you think they sound like your cup of tea, because whatever your opinion, it’s wrong: either you’re wrong that you won’t love them, or you’re wrong about why you’ll love them.

Books of 2014, #2: Nicholson: A Biography, by Marc Eliot

Over the last few months, I’ve ended up reading a few biographies of entertainment figures. The best, hands down, was ?love’s Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove which I will recommend to anyone anytime.

Nicholson: A Biography doesn’t rise to that level—not by a long shot. I wonder if it’s because Jack Nicholson is simply not someone who will ever really let you in—certainly the patterns of his interpersonal relationship suggest that to be the case.

Still, the book isn’t helped by the fact that the text itself has some problems; it seems poorly copyedited, given that there’s at least one place where they misspell “Parramount”, and the voice seems to me to veer towards apologia at times.

It’s not devoid of interest—my awareness of Jack Nicholson was pretty superficial, so it’s not like I didn’t learn things hadn’t known before—but mostly I learned that Jack Nicholson isn’t someone I think I’d care to hang around with.

Books of 2014, #1: One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson

The other day, I found myself describing Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon to some friends, and admitted that as much as I enjoyed his work, he was an author who never met a digression he didn’t like.

Bill Bryson occupies a niche that allows him to produce books that are often the accumulation of their digressions. I don’t say that negatively—I enjoy the style and the content, and he does it well, diligently making the connections that thread the digressions into a narrative.

Still, One Summer doesn’t hold together as well as his other books. I think this is because the most substantial hook he has upon which to hang his narrative is that pivotal moments in the various parallel stories he is telling take place in this one summer—but much of the book is everything that leads up to the events happening that summer and a lesser but still significant part is concerned with what happened afterward, and the actual events happening that summer are generally (but not always) unrelated except for being “significant”.

As a consequence, it doesn’t grant the various narrative threads the same sense of coherence that you find in In a Sunburned Country, or A Walk in the Woods, or even At Home.

Which is not to say that I didn’t find it an interesting read; the individual threads it covers are significant ones, taking place at an inflection point in the rate of change in our society—it just doesn’t make for a coherent fabric of a narrative.