Don’t fear the cowbell.


Cowbells have their place in rock music.  And this is one of the places…

But can you imagine the recording session?

UPDATE:  My friend Keith Stoddard suggests that The Move did a better cowbell than Blue Oyster Cult and he is right.

Any other suggestions?

UPDATE: Here’s another…

UPDATE:  The stakes are rising

UPDATE: And another

UPDATE:  Maybe we can go no further than this…

When in Rome… (Or Alphabet City for that matter)


On Friday Jeana and I are going to visit our daughter Amy in New York once again.

We are staying in Lower East Side/East Greenwich Village and I discovered the other day that specifically the area is known as Alphabet City.   Its name comes from Avenues A, B, C, and D, the only avenues in Manhattan to have single-letter names.  We’re staying between Avenues A and B.

Anyway, We’ve decided to host a dinner party in our Air B’n’B apartment and invite some of Amy’s pals.

So, this has to be the starter…

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Foxcatcher: Review.


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OK I admit I am late to the party on this one but I missed Foxcatcher’s fairly limited release in the UK and have only finally viewed it on DVD.  But it was worth the wait.

It’s a uniquely paced thriller in that it’s almost plotless.  The dynamics and emotional drivers of all the main protagonists, two wresting brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) and their errr ‘mentor’ (Steve Carell), are never revealed.  It’s sinister from start to finish but it’s never entirely clear why it’s sinister particularly if, like me, you don’t know the story that it’s based on.

But suffice it so say the direction by Bennett Miler (two Oscar nominations under his belt now for this and Capote) is outstanding and grips you from start to finish, despite the fact that very little of any consequence actually happens.

There’s an elephant in the movie theatre with this film.  And that is homosexuality.  Lots of men getting sweaty and grappling with one another on the floor is not the point.  It’s the unstated relationship between the two main characters that is.

Is the relationship between billionaire wrestling freak Du Pont and Schwartz homosexually charged?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Du Pont may wish to be seen as a father figure but it goes much deeper than that in my view.

Is the drug taking and drinking that Du Pont introduces to his Olympic Gold medallist charge some form of seduction?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Is the relationship that Du Pont ‘enjoys’ with his mother also related to his sexuality (Oedipal almost)?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Certainly it has enraged the real life Schwartz who clearly is not in any way inclined to the male sex but that’s not the point.  Miller has created a movie that is undeniably homo-erotically charged and that is not in any way a criticism.

The movie is a beautiful enigma wrapped up in a conundrum and all the better for it.

But ultimately what you are left with is the extraordinary performances of Tatum and, especially, Carell in a career defining outing that will surely be hard for him to beat.

And one last point; the outstanding soundtrack by Rob Simonsen is a pretty fundamental contribution to the whole mood of the piece.

The Martian: Review


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I can’t quite whip up the enthusiasm for this movie that many others have.

It’s fine.  Good even.  But no more than that.

Mars to me looks very, very much like Colorado although it turns out it’s Hungary and Jordan in fact.

Matt Damon’s performance is likeable but not endearing and actually I couldn’t particularly empathise with anyone in the cast.

The major plot ‘twist’ is predictable.

The effects are good but nothing we haven’t seen before apart from possibly the opening sandstorm sequence.

And then it kind of turns into Gravity.  A movie I detested.

I didn’t detest this but it’s a long way down Ridley Scott’s list of achievements.  In fact I’d rate it below Prometheus, a sadly under-rated movie.

Oh, and it’s too long.

A different take on Take Five


Paul Desmond’s Take Five made famous by Dave Brubeck in his 1959 recording is the biggest selling Jazz single in history and is one of my all time favourite jazz standards.  It sounds as fresh today as when it was first recorded.

Here’s an early film of it…

It’s hard to beat but I heard this cover of it on Desert Island discs as the opener from Glaswegian Pakistani poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker.  I would’\t go as far as to say it was in any way superior to the masterful original but it’s certainly entertaining.  I bring you Sachal Studios Orchestra’s sitar rich take on Take Five.  (You’re gonna thank me for this, I promise.)

Take it away boys…