It wasn’t the best of times

It wasn’t the worst of times.

I’m taking about the newest movie incarnation of Dune. Let me preface this with a little info: This isn’t exactly my genre. I go more for Rom-Coms, Marvel — action with comedy — period or historic drama or comedy, some paranormal comedy. Straight up sci-fi is not my thing. I couldn’t read more than a couple of chapters of the book and I sat through maybe a 1/2 hour of the first incarnation of the movie when it was on TV.

My movie buddy was surprised that I agreed to see it, but the cast is excellent so … why the hell not give it a go?

Dune poster © Warner Bros.
© Warner Bros.

They did an nice job of giving necessary background information to us newbies. I didn’t feel lost by not having read the book. Of course, I did my usual and caught on to what was happening with a couple of characters way before any real indication was given by exposition or actor. I do that.

When I first saw Ghost, I leaned over to the guy I was with — who had already seen the movie — and told him, “That’s the killer.” That was during the first scene when the killer came on screen. During the scene where Swayze and Goldwyn are riding in the elevator, I told my companion why Swayze would be killed.

It’s a gift … and a curse.

The only thing wrong was continuity issues, especially noticeable after one particular fight scene. The blood was there on the nasolabial fold and the philtrum; then it wasn’t; then it was; then it wasn’t. Pretty damned good if that’s the worst problem. There were sound issues where the music drowned the dialogue, but I’m fairly certain that was a movie theatre issue with the balance of the speakers and not a post-production issue.

The storyline is coherent. It made me realize how derivative Star Wars is, especially the sand worms. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time White Tower is almost a complete rip-off of the Bene Gesserit.

The cast was, for the most part, excellent. Josh Brolin looked much better than when I last saw him as Thanos and did his usual very fine acting. Jason Momoa was better than I’ve ever seen him. Charlotte Rampling was excellent as always. Timothée Chalamet did a wonderful job of character development and growth in depth. The entire cast was good. Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides was majorly annoying and I think/hope that was in keeping with the book.

The one drawback was the length of the film. 2 and 1/2 hours. Two and one-half hours! I don’t know what they could have deleted, but ye gods and little goblins, in the name of all that’s holy, I will NOT be watching the director’s cut any time soon.

2017 was a very bad year

Dear Dan,

2017 sucked … and not well. Let’s forget the whole politics/Republican jackasses in Congress/racism/tax cut for the wealthy/Trump vs. women, immigrants, Constitution, etc., etc., but pro-Russia/ad nauseum disaster portions of the year.

Every year that passes, I feel like I lose more of you. This year I lost two major pieces of you, but in an odd way, I gained a piece, too.

First, what I lost: three of my rock gods.

Continue reading “2017 was a very bad year”

Robin Williams

Dear Dan,

Well, now you get to meet Robin Williams. I’m sorry you two couldn’t figure out another way.

I’d sort of like to be a fly on the wall for the meeting. Two of my favorite funny men, cracking jokes. I don’t know that you would actually be making the jokes, though. You would be like that poor guy during Robin’s first appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio — the one that had to go to the hospital because he got a hernia from laughing so hard.

Robin William’s suicide brings back so many harsh memories. I feel so badly for the family he left behind. For seven years, I have been trying to do what Robin’s wife said they want to do: “It is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter.” I wish them success with that. Mine has been modest and sporadic. Remembering the good and laughing at the funny gets easier with time, but the horror of that night never eases; it never goes away.

I love and miss you, bro.

Creature Feature

Dear Dan,

Back when we were kids, there was a program in the afternoon called “Creature Feature.” They played some of the original Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy movies. They also played some of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

One summer during high school, you contracted mono. I think you were 16 at the time. You were hospitalized for a while and when you came home, you were on restricted bed rest for several weeks. I had to stay home to look after you. I couldn’t go to the pool or wherever else my friends were going. I had to stay and make sure you drank enough water or Gatorade, ate a bit and above all, stayed in bed.

Funny, but it didn’t really bother me to stay home those weeks. I read and played my guitar. In the late afternoon, we watched “Creature Feature.”

One day, “The Screaming Skull” was shown. As the movie progressed, you and I sat closer and closer until I was sitting on the bed beside you. We wrapped a blanket over us with one small opening for us to peek out. The opening allowed you to look out with your left eye and I looked out with my right. We jumped at every creepy scene.

Until the end.

The skull didn’t like being made to look like it was committing murder in revenge for its own murdered. The last scene had the skull going after the man who really killed all the victims and was using the skull to make the murders look paranormal. The real murderer was standing in a swamp, while the skull was snapping its jaws at the perp’s throat and the guy screamed.

That ending was so bizarre  — and silly! — that you and I collapsed on the bed, screaming with laughter. Mom came home from work to find us rolling around, laughing so hard the tears were running down our cheeks and we couldn’t breathe. We couldn’t even tell her what we were laughing about. Mom just shook her head and walked away.

It wasn’t long after that, you were up and about, back at you usual summer routine. Apparently, laughter was truly the best medicine.

Several years ago, I turned the channel in time to see that last scene and it took me right back to that one, damned-near-perfect afternoon.

I have often thought back on that summer. I never told you, but that one afternoon was worth those weeks of staying home.

I love and miss you, bro.

Musical earwigs and my thought process

Musical earwigs — those songs that gets stuck in my head and I can’t get it out.

For the past several months, I’ve been waking up with a song running through my head. The same song will be on an endless loop for several days, then another moves in. Once in a while I get a break and two or three songs will share the rotation, but mostly it’s that one song repeating.

Most recently the playlist has been oldies: “Requiem for the Masses,” “Cherry Hill Park,” MacArthur Park,” and “Happy Together.” I will accept anything by The Beatles or Michael Buble. “Sway” was on a loop there for a while. Michael can lead to Frank or Tony or Mel and they can lead to Edith and Billie.

Sometimes I know why a song gets stuck. Watching the first two Harry Potter movies will immediately lead to “MacArthur Park” sung by Richard Harris. That leads to “Requiem for the Masses” sung by The Association. Why? Because Jimmy Webb’s song was first offered to and turned down by The Association, then offered to and accepted by Richard Harris — before he accepted the role of Dumbledore, of course.

When a band member dies as in the case of Levon Helm of The Band — that can start the process. For the next several days “Virgil Cain is the name” and “I pulled in to Nazareth” loop-de-looped.

The times I find particularly trying are the loops that lead to loops. For instance, “Requiem for the Masses” made me think of El Cordobes and “Or I’ll Dress You In Mourning

… a very hot man in his day …!

Thinking of El Cordobes makes “Requiem for the Masses” hammer through my brain. And I go “up and down and around and ’round” … so now Jim Croce is running through my brain. Ugh!

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