Wednesday, July 16, 2008


1. I appear to have come across as somewhat negative when writing recently about John Zorn's "Filmworks X". I must have been having a bad day. It's not like that at all.

2. Just as there are perfect Monday-morning-wake-up-call songs, there are perfect darkening-late-Tuesday-midwinter-afternoon songs, of which "Zaz Turned Blue", by Was (Not Was), must be one. The song, which is, if I understand it correctly, a sad tale of the unintended consequences of a bit of sexual experimentation in the park, is a triumph of vocal delivery by Mel Torme. He sings it so straight that the listener is put in a position of utter discomfort, not knowing whether to laugh or cry: was the Velvet Fog in on the "joke", or completely oblivious? (Everything about Was (Not Was), from their name onwards, is at some level a joke, at another level not a joke. Why does everything have to be so hard?) Also worth noting is how Torme morphs, early in the line "What were we supposed to do?", from Frank Sinatra into Scott Walker.

3. Next up in our continuing series entitled "This Goes With This", sub-category "Strange Bedfellows": "Love To Know", by The Marine Girls, and the seventh track on my CD version of The Minutemen's "Double Nickels On The Dime". (The disparity between the tracks listed on the cover of "Nickels" and the actual tracks on the CD is one of the many things in life that I have never understood. I am somewhat relieved to see that the three listings for this album on Discogs give three different sets of numbers.) If you listen to these two songs back-to-back you will know almost instantly whether you have the right Minutemen song. Were The Minutemen fans of The Marine Girls? Given what we know about Kurt Cobain's unexpected listening habits, it cannot be ruled out as a possibility.

4. One night last week Adrienne and I were given a get-out-of-jail-free card. We used it to go to the movies: to be precise, "Happy Go Lucky", the latest Mike Leigh joint. With Mike Leigh one is rarely disappointed, and this one is perhaps up there with his best. We are so conditioned these days to expect the unexpected that it is a relief to be able to watch a movie in which, when the main character is filmed tidying up the children's papers, she is not going to find, say, a hidden crack pipe or Weapon of Mass Destruction, she is simply tidying up the children's papers. (Also: why is it that, even though I spent the first 17 years of my life, and many long stretches thereafter, on the family farm, and have spent a grant total of about a week in London, I realise, whenever I watch a film like this, that I miss London as much as I miss the farm (and I miss the farm a lot)?)