If I have learned anything from the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th it’s that the slasher movie is dead. What was once a thriving genre in the 1980s has in the past few decades been reduced to a parody of itself. “Was it all worth it? The need for this derivative, explicitly violent, overly sexualized bastard stepson of cinema?” Let’s find out.
Last night I listened to The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady while drinking warm Pepsi and playing Tecmo Super Bowl. It turned what was a relatively quiet evening into an offbeat jazz odyssey. Also, the 1991 Seahawks beat the Jets 28-6. All thanks to the power of jazz. So we’re rolling a smoke and hitching a ride back to 1963 for this week’s Classic Album Tuesday.
I find writing about jazz, particularly for someone not well versed in the genre, challenging. There are no words and the intentions aren’t always clear, but that’s kind of the beauty. It’s how YOU interpret the music. I try to close my eyes and remember what I can. The first thing I recall is the music, swaying in, like a drunk elephant, followed by a bizarre low buzz, like a fart machine. Is it a tuba? An alto, something? I can’t believe it only took me two paragraphs to type “fart machine” describing one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.
At first, the whole album has a chaotic feel. Like a circus that keeps piling on attractions and stunts before the previous performance has ended. From what I’ve read, Mingus utilized a great deal of overdubbing, piling on more and more instruments and unique sounds throughout the recording process. Himself a talented double bass player, Mingus is accompanied by the equivalent of a small chamber orchestra in a ten-piece backing band. Even instruments I wouldn’t associate with this bluesy kind of jazz are included like classical guitar and flute.
I could name the names of all the talented musicians on this record, or at least copy and paste their names–I don’t know any of them, but I’m told they’re amazing–but why do that when Mingus himself can do that right here. If you don’t feel like clicking on that, it’s a link to the album’s liner notes, written by Mingus. He’s very technical in breaking down the album, which is broken into four tracks and six modes like a ballet. I was surprised considering the album has an improvised vibe. Apparently, Mingus planned much of this in workshops and had a specific vision. The greats always do.
I find it interesting to note that the rest of the liner notes for this album were written by Mingus’ personal psychologist, Dr. Edmund Pollock. Though I don’t know the nature of their relationship the liner notes are not weird or science-y. Pollock is complimentary towards a musician often called, “The Angry Man of Jazz.” One of my favorite comments is when he says Mingus is in “great pain and anguish because he loves.” What a beautiful way to describe music as a vehicle for personal expression.
The album isn’t all downbeat rhythms and melodies. There are moments of elation when Mingus switches to playing piano as cherubic flutes play overhead. It’s the kind of album that can’t be listened to in pieces. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is a symphony, with all its highs and lows. There’s too much to take in on a first listen. It’s the kind of album you can listen to one hundred times and always hear something new. I look forward to hearing it again when the 1991 Seahawks go to the Super Bowl. Go jazz!
Spoon is a good band.
This is probably about as close to an irrefutable fact that is not actually a fact but a mere opinion that you’re going to get from any 21st century rock music fan. Well, other than that Radiohead is a good band. But unlike Radiohead, Spoon have actually rocked since the 21st century began, or at least in their own conventionally unconventional way. And perhaps that’s what’s made them one of the great bands of the last two decades – their willingness to embrace rock tropes while undercutting and reconstructing what those tropes are in their own image. Continue reading
Earlier this week, new footage was discovered from the Freddy vs. Jason weigh-in. That’s right, this match up was so hotly anticipated that to promote the film, Jason and Freddy were brought to a pre-fight weigh-in at Bally’s Las Vegas followed by a press conference. I still get a kick out of the idea, but there’s one lingering problem I’ve always had with this movie.
Among other similarities, Jay Som and Vagabon just released debut(ish) albums that make me feel old and obsolete in a good way. What I mean by this is that both Jay Som (aka Melanie Duterte) and Vagabon (aka Lætitia Tamko) are both indie rock artists in their early 20’s, and also happen to not be white males. I know, my first instinct as a white male that has an affinity for the last 20 years of indie rock – which of course has been mostly dominated by white males – should be to feel completely alienated.
But fortunately, this seems to have been the way my music listening habits have been leaning in the past few months, for fairly obvious reasons. Looking at the albums I’ve responded to from this year so far, other than the one-two punch of my last Compare/Contrast, it’s mostly been female-led. But I realize I probably sound like an over-compensating male wannabe feminist libtard, who has all of the sudden made a cultural conversation about himself. And since no one wants to hear that, I’ll just proceed to talk about what makes Jay Som’s Everybody Works and Vagabon’s Infinite Worlds pretty great, regardless of whether you care about what perspective they’re coming from. Continue reading
I remember seeing a cardboard display for Jason X in the lobby of a Regal Cinema when I was eleven-years-old. I hadn’t seen any of the films but I was familiar with the character. My immediate reaction was “Wow, that’s dumb” followed by laughter. Even as a child Jason X seemed like a bad idea and it is a bad idea. I actually ended up renting it with my dad on home video—that’s what we called it—however many months later. I remember thinking it was just so terrible and then falling asleep.
Looking back, I think I was a little hard on Jason X. Too much preteen angst, perhaps. Then again, preteen John hadn’t sat through nine other Friday the 13th movies beforehand. Because in the grand scheme of things, Jason X is one of the most entertaining installments in the series. Yes, it’s a terrible idea with cliche characters, cheesy effects, and flat story, but it’s fun. The action is solid and there are a few genuine laughs. Jason X, like Piranha 3DD, is a movie that knows exactly what it’s supposed to be. It never tries to be more than dumb fun and on that note, it succeeds. On other notes? Oh god is it bad.
It has never been easy being The Wolverine. When we first met Hugh Jackman’s take on the character in X-Men, 17 years and 10 movies ago, Logan was a cage fighter who explained to a runaway little girl that it hurt to use his claws “every time.” He’s lost several loves of his life, some under pretty brutal circumstances. And let’s not forget all the pain and suffering caused by his involvement in the Weapon X program… Even though he forgot it, because it gave him amnesia. Old man Logan’s been through a lot, and now it’s time for him, and this version of the franchise, to finally come to an end.