Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Addams Family -- Backed Up With Episodes

Morticia Meets Royalty

The Addams Family has an aunt from Iowa who was married to a prince. So she's royalty, and it's completely gone to her head. She seems to have lost her money, and is a total pauper, but is still very hoity-toity, demanding the various royal perogatives. Somehow in the episode, which I've forgotten, oil on her land maybe, she gets back her riches and is able to go off and travel the world.

The highlight of the episode is the romance between Thing, and the aunt's own hand-in-a-box, Lady Fingers. They're busy gettin' it on. Except at one point, Lady Fingers isn't there and it's a claw of some old lady in the box, which freaks everyone out.

Gomez, The People's Choice

The mayor is our old friend Henson. But Gomez thinks he's corrupt, so Gomez is going to run for mayor. The Addams Family has a big computer in their front room that spits out various answers to questions and helps him prepare for his campaign. His poster is something about Gomez smoking, which he does a lot of.

Gomez and the family, of course being weird, come across as weird to the reporters covering the campaign. But they think it's all a gag, turning conventional wisdom on its ear, so to speak, and popular support is overwhelming for Gomez. The mayor essentially concedes defeat before the election even happens, based on the large number of petition signatures that Mama and Fester have accrued. As it turns out, there's a slight problem with the signatures, leaving Gomez out of politics. Alas.

Cousin Itt's Problem

Cousin Itt is losing his hair. Fester makes a hair growing tonic. He has his hair back. Cousin Itt gets a dog. Etc.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Addams Family -- Gomez and Morticia Meet

This was a two-parter. But not handled like most "To Be Continued" shows are. It's framed with the parents telling Pugsley and Wednesday the story of how they came to meet and marry.

It's kind of boring. Very crazy with entertaining places, but mostly blah.

Morticia is cute as can be in the flashback to 13 years ago. She has various morbid qualities that no one seems to wonder about, even though her mother has a more or less conventional personality, and her sister, while very weird, isn't weird in the same way as Morticia. No one wonders why she clips off the flowers and keeps the stems, for example. She is definitely a doll, ooo la la (which may be French, kissing my own arm.)

Gomez looks virtually the same 13 years ago as he does now in 1965. Different suit. He appears to have less confidence and pizazz. But he displays his greater qualities whenever Morticia is around. Fester looks precisely the same 13 years ago, including the exact same clothes, as does Lurch and Cousin Itt.

Morticia's mother is played by Margaret Hamilton. There's quite a bit with Mamma, who is Gomez's mamma, which I had wondered about. (I haven't looked up anything on other sites, where all these questions are no doubt answered.) Fester is Morticia's uncle. Morticia's last name is Frump. Her sister, Ophelia, plays a lyre, has flowers in her hair, and is a blonde.

Mother Frump wants to set up Gomez and Ophelia, as does Mamma Adams. So the basis of the conflict throughout is how Gomez might back out of the wedding, as he's promised to marry her. This is where it gets blah. But, it's mildly entertaining, with all the other cute stuff going on.

Cousin Itt has an extensive role in these episodes, including being shrunken by a hairdryer.

The funniest line, as I recall, was at the end when Gomez says Itt had been quite a playboy, and Pugsley says he'd like to hear that story. Gomez has a grin that looks like a genuine chuckle, like he actually is amused.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Addams Family -- My Fair Cousin Itt

My Fair Cousin Itt, I didn't notice the title before watching it. They do some homemade speech therapy on Itt, like in My Fair Lady. His usual chirrups give way to debonair Hollywood actor speak. In fact, it turns out that Itt's speaking voice is just normal English spoken rapidly. When he slows down, it's a lot easier for non-Addams people to discern his meaning. Although, as any regular viewer knows, even his high pitch squeaks and trills are recognizable for the words they are the more concentration you give them. It was interesting hearing Morticia speaking in Itt's usual voice. When he brought it down to our speed, it seemed to drag. Since I was tired anyway, though, it was a welcome switch.

In this episode, it's coming up on Wednesday's birthday and they're going to do a family play. Gomez wrote it. The plot sounds vaguely familiar, about two lovers whose family opposes their match and who end up dead by the end of the story. But who to play the lead male part? Morticia will be the female. Then it comes down to Itt for the part, with Fester as understudy, and Lurch as Fester's understudy. Meaning if anything happens to Itt [evil grin], Fester will take over. And if anything happens to Fester [evil grin], Lurch will take over. So Itt ends up in a bag in a trunk and Fester in an iron maiden.

But Gomez gets it sorted out, and Morticia lays down the law about the play being cancelled if anything happens to Itt. With all that safely squared away, Gomez has some professional help, by way of a director. He's funny, made funnier by a monocle that falls out when he's patted on the back. He's only in it for the money, and Gomez pays cash.

Once Itt's voice changes, and he knows he's a good actor, the whole stardom thing goes to his head. He has a sheepdog, sunglasses, decked out like Cary Grant.

There's some funny bits in this one, the monocle guy is about the funniest, that he would keep forgetting the $60,000 when it comes to his artistic integrity.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Addams Family -- Winning of Morticia Addams

Gomez and Morticia are the perfectly happy couple. But Fester reads an article that couples who fight are happiest, that the others' marriages are disasters waiting to happen. The article is by a psychologist who appears in the last half of the episode.

To save their marriage, then, Fester, Mama, Lurch, and Thing resolve to get them upset with one another. But anything they do is quickly dismissed by Gomez and their marriage stays happy. One interesting part is Gomez' Zen Yogi class, presided over by a cliche TV guru with turban. He comes to the house, Gomez insults him, he leaves.

The psychologist is a very good fencer, having killed three husbands, I believe. So he and Gomez are going to duel. Before this, and precipitating the duel, the psychologist had fallen in love with Morticia. Now it's up to the family to prevent the duel, since Gomez doesn't handle a sword well.

I couldn't quite understand why the psychologist was the one to back out. Morticia said something about Gomez not liking to travel, then the next thing the psychologist backed out. So, if that's a fencing term, or whatever. It wasn't clear to me, and I was halfway paying attention, too. So all's well.

But Morticia wonders if she's worth fighting over anymore.

The entire family was there for the episode. Wednesday was missing a tooth. Fairly good. Not clear why the psychologist didn't want to fight.

Cousin Itt was back, in his little room.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Addams Family -- Lurch the Teen Idol

Lurch grunts and groans his way to superstardom, at least for the screaming fans outside the Addams' house.

His style is very avant garde, nearly beatnik, but he's a favorite for the Beatles audience, who end up mauling him and keeping him from a worldwide tour. And he looked so nice in his Alpine boy's suit.

I thought I was really going to like this episode, but had a rough time with it. Which was my mood and nothing essentially bad about the episode. Some of Gomez and Morticia's lines were too typically sit com. And I prefer Lurch a little less ridiculous. Fester's taking a picture of himself with a lightbulb wasn't funny.

Lurch's song was pretty cool. It was funny that they didn't go for any actual singing.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Addams Family -- Cousin Itt, Vocational Problems

The exact title escapes me. But basically Cousin Itt is trying to find himself, his purpose, by getting a job. But what? The occupation of marriage counselor comes up and is central to the plot, as Gomez and Morticia role play a couple with problems. Then Morticia thinks they actually have problems because Gomez does it so sincerely.

The guy from Dick Van Dyke is a vocational counselor, Richard Deacon. He's amazed that Itt was very much aptitude. He can arrange blocks in the corresponding holes in a very nice way. He can correctly identify all the Rorschach inkblots. And he's a pretty conversationalist as well, if you have Gomez and Morticia to interpret. Although Richard Deacon's character, Dr. something, picks up Itt's language and converses with him. It turns out that Itt has an IQ of 320 and that the job he is ideally suited for is marriage counselor. This is kind of a spoiler, since that's the punchline and forces Gomez to have the doctor evicted from the house. Lurch and Itt throw out his briefcases and other things. He leaves behind the blocks and Wednesday Addams shows that she might be a genius too!

Highlights of the episode include Lurch in Itt's tiny little room. He has a small door, a lowered ceiling, everything at his scale. Lurch does a lot of good growling, but it's painful to see Lurch hit his head on ceiling beams a few times, then finally have to crawl from the room. Fester has a bit part, which I've pretty much forgotten. Mama isn't there, rather, she's upstairs somewhere playing pinochle. Pugsley appears briefly at the beginning, Wednesday at the beginning and ending.

Gomez and Morticia have a sexy scene, in which he has ideas, but she tells him later.

Gomez has a funny scene when he's locked out of the bedroom, after their marriage counselor spat. He's in funky pajamas, smoking his cigar, looking for a place downstairs to sleep. He gets the little two way loveseat they have.

It's not an extremely funny episode. Hair jokes about Cousin Itt, listening to his squeaks and the corresponding interpretation, that sort of thing dominates. I'm always amazed, though, at Gomez's liveliness, his eyes, reactions, expressions, very great. And the same for Morticia, except she is always a lot more laid back, of course.

Thing helps get the phone number for the vocational guy. Also delivers the mail. And knocks on his box as applause for a dance and musical bit that Gomez and Morticia did.

Taylor Hicks Last Night

I have big sympathy for Taylor Hicks. I think he's been mistreated on American Idol, and they clearly don't like him very much.

I had a hard time warming up to him entirely when he was on the show last year. I heard a few people saying he was like Elvis, which I could never see. So right up to the last week or so I still had my doubts. A lot of his moves and enthusiasm didn't seem genuine to me, certainly not in the Elvis league. But since then I've enjoyed his album, gotten his other albums, gone to his concert when he was in the area, basically been as enthusiastic as I could. Yet there's always this kind of sympathy in being any kind of fan. I listen to the album and wonder 'was this right? should they have done this differently?' Etc. And as far as album promotion I think they screwed him over. For example, I never heard his song on the radio, in a grocery store, in a car, anyplace, not one single time. It's like he never existed. Up to a few months ago, he hadn't been on XM radio -- I've since quit checking -- except going way back to that dreck 'Do I Make You Proud.' I'm writing in, I'm voting him up at, etc., at that time.

Anyway, there's some personal interaction there. So I'm in full sympathy mode when I know he has to be on American Idol last night. And what happens? He doesn't get an introduction, he comes out to a bare stage, like a man with nothing. No set-up, no cool guitar around, no drummer, no band, just a guy and a microphone, essentially naked to the world, looking not that great either. Every little performance wart magnified. I thought "Heaven Knows" had a lot of energy, but since half the show is the way things are presented, it was not a fitting performance. I'm thinking somebody at American Idol hates this guy.

Then we have that insufferable Clive Davis' crappy spiel every year about how many CDs they've all sold. It's one thing to have an orgasm over Daughtry's CD, but he really doesn't have to peck at Taylor like he did. That was mean.

Then we get the Beatles' medley. And Kelly has a great set-up, can really blow the opening in a great way. And Taylor gets the morose, good in its context, bad on a show like this "A Day In The Life." About blowing his brain, mind out in a car. The lyrics were goofed up. It's kind of low, it's morose, it's the wrong song for him, etc., etc. Full fan sympathy mode here. They didn't do anything with him that suggested respect. Even Sanjaya had the extra energy of Steve Perry to perk up his performance.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Agent Nine and the Jewel Mystery

Earlier this month I gave a synopsis and a basic review of the old book "Agent Nine Solves His First Case." At the end of the book, the reader is prompted to check into Agent Nine's involvement in the Jewel Mystery. I happened to be at an antique store and what do I happen to see on the shelf, but "Agent Nine and the Jewel Mystery," and actually another copy of "Solves His First Case;" I got the "Jewel Mystery" to complete my collection, apparently, of the Agent Nine series. I looked over at ABEbooks for other Agent Nine books by Graham M. Dean and these seem to be the only two, although there are other books by the same author, which I did not look through entirely. Whew!

But I'm thinking, Five Bucks, hmm, oh, it seems so much for literature that is going to be ultimately so meaningless. Oh, what the heck. It's beat to death, the cover is weak and coming apart, now hanging by several threads, but this isn't a book museum I'm running here, so I guess I may as well get it over with, get myself up to date on Bob Houston's last known adventure and let it go at that.

The same characters are back, including Merritt Hughes, Bob's uncle; Bob Houston, himself, the straight arrow, new federal agent; Condon Adams, Merritt's co-worker and sometimes nemesis, and Tully Ross (boo!), Bob's not-so-straight arrow co-worker and sometimes nemesis. I think it's right around page 1 that the organization they work for it not just an investigation organization within the Justice Department, but IS in fact the FBI. That's different from the first book.

The first several pages tidy up things concerning the first case, first book. Tully has done a foolish thing by granting interviews concerning the case, against Justice Department policy. They're able to narrow it down to him very easily since TULLY ROSS is credited with several things about the case that he in fact wasn't responsible for. So you can picture the interview, "Yeah, just make sure you get the name right, T-U-L-L-Y ROSS. It'll be real easy for me to go back to the FBI and deny that I was ever the source of the articles!" But as it turns out, he's shifting uneasily from foot to foot and admits he was the source. Tully!

Well, from that point on, Tully is in fine sneering form in the little bit of the book he appears in. He actually tells Bob he doesn't like him very much and that they're rivals. His deviousness, though, like Condon's, doesn't go very far. They discover quickly that against the kind of thugs they're up against, it's best to be a team player.

The set-up for this one is that Bob and Tully are being sent to Florida to solve a Jewel Mystery, having to do with smugglers somehow bringing in diamonds and selling them. We basically know where they are, so Tully is going to one town and Bob to another town. The smugglers will be somewhere in the middle. The book has a lot less to do with solving the mystery, though, than of getting there to do the solving. There's 252 pages in the book, and by page 150, thereabouts, he's just getting to Florida. The trip is eventful, to say the least, and full of adventure, but you know the actual solving of the case is going to get the short end of the stick.

The whole first section, then, more than half the book, is the train ride to Jacksonville. There's a passenger who's a diamond salesman (jewels, remember), who turns out to be Nefarious Guy No. 1, Joe Hamsa. Hamsa has absolutely no problem disarming, evading, tricking, knocking out, and stealing the confidential papers of Tully and Bob. Tully and Bob are completely incompetent and can't seem to do anything right. Bob, of course, has the edge over Tully, who has his papers stolen first, is knocked out first, and who vacates the rest of the book. Tully literally contributes nothing to the story.

Bob can't find Hamsa, no matter how often he flashes his badge and informs everyone he is a federal agent. Where can Hamsa be? For such an admirable boy adventurer, he must've been hired because his uncle was an agent and not for any kind of innate detective abilities. Think, stupid, the train does have a top! The most interesting things about Bob, really, is that he can fight when he really has get the chance, he's basically fearless, and, that's about it, oh, he gets lucky breaks when he needs them. He takes showers and he eats. He needs seconds at pancakes, which is unbelievable, since, to me anyway, pancakes are very filling after just one or two.

So, he finally gets to Florida, meets up with Uncle Merritt, who is promptly kidnapped, as in the "First Case" book. Now it's just Bob, working his badge magic with taxi drivers, telegraph operators, anyone who gets in his way. He's a federal agent, he's a federal agent, he's a federal agent, always throwing his weight around. He works a while with Condon, who is graciously setting aside some of his rivalry issues with Merritt to help find Merritt. There's a touching scene where Condon and Bob are together and Condon asks, "Your uncle means quite a lot to you?" Bob nods. "You know he does. He got me into the service and he's pretty much of an older brother to me." The narrator tells us a waitress took their orders before Adams spoke again. "Then you know how I feel about Tully; he's kind of a kid brother to me. But that's getting away from what I started to say. Your uncle and I have always been rivals in the service. One of us would solve a good case and then the other would win on the next one. He's never liked the way I got in through a little political help, but on the whole I've done a pretty good job. Gosh, I wouldn't know what to do if anything happened to him to take him out of the service."

Yet, in the rest of the book, Condon has next to nothing to do with solving the case, rescuing the uncle, or anything.

In fact, the book gets kind of rushed about here. Afterall, the case needs to be solved, and Bob is not mobile enough or resourceful enough -- not entirely his own fault -- to find all the clues he's going to need to do it singlehandedly. So enters, virtually, a deux ex machina to help us along, Sheriff McCurdy, who knows everyone, every place, everything. After a tussle over who Bob is, being so young, to be carrying a gun, etc., he and Bob go point-point-point, connect-the-dots, and solve the case. Since everyone knows it has to be a happy ending, Merritt is in the other room tied up. The jewels are coming in. The smugglers have us trapped. There's some gunplay. The smugglers are nabbed and led away.

Then, as improbable as anything I've ever read, Merritt and Bob burn down the smugglers' cabin so that no one gets any idea to use it as a smugglers' cabin ever again! Oh brother, what if that cabin happens to belong to someone? What if they might search it for additional evidence? Let's burn down every cabin in the world just to prevent criminals from possibly using them! LOL, so stupid.

OK, Writer Graham M. Dean apparently needed to churn this puppy out on a deadline. Some of the adventure stuff on the train ride's pretty good. There's no endless wrestling in the dark as in "First Case," so that's good. The characters, though, don't have any consistent interaction and relevance to the case throughout. Bob being isolated means he will have to fight it out uphill on his own. But then Sheriff McCurdy happens along and turns out to be the real hero of the book. Bob never really gains in competence, doesn't do any detecting, and really deserves none of the credit, and so it's all quite empty from the standpoint of your hero ought to be the hero.

Published by Goldsmith, 1935. Thrilling exploits of "G" Men.

The Addams Family -- Uncle Fester's Toupee

DVD time, with the Addams Family. It's amazing how nice this show looks, how crisp, all the episodes, and the way the characters and running gags don't get tiresome.

This one features Uncle Fester. I wonder who's uncle he actually is. Gomez says to him that he has Addams' blood flowing through him, but when he's asked his last name, he doesn't know. So I don't know either. I've never looked it up at an official fan site, but I've always assumed Mama was Morticia's mother, and that Fester was her uncle, Mama's brother. That would explain the rancor seen between Fester and Mama from time to time, a little bit of competition. But in that case Fester wouldn't be an Addams, excluding inbreeding, of course. Maybe they want it to be intentionally vague, hence his lack of memory as to what his last name is.

The set-up for this one is that he has a pen-pal, a woman, and he's done what a lot of online people reportedly have done, make up things about themselves that aren't true. I seem to recall an Andy Griffith show with this premise as well, in which Howard the Barber makes himself out to be a wealthy playboy or something, for the sake of impressing a lady. Well, Fester, who doesn't actually seem like the pen-pal writing type, has this lady friend out there. He's represented himself as having a full head of hair, of being a football player, of being a Cary Grant type.

So what to do about the hair. We have a section in which toupees are tried on, not by Fester, but by Gomez, to give to Fester later. That's pretty funny. There's even a mohawk toupee!

The lady shows up, Fester looks great, it seems like they'll be a couple from then on. He even does the kissing her arm when she speaks French bit. Prompting Morticia to say the funniest line of the show, "You men have such a low boiling point."

The other Addams aren't too thrilled with this change in their lives, and so they turn her off to Fester, prompting her to dump him unceremoniously and even call him Baldy.

Lurch is up for some great growing in this one. Thing is there to do some things. And all works out well. Mama is nowhere to be seen, the kids, gone.

The episode is very SIT-COM.

The Addams Family -- Progress

I foolishly failed to write my Addams Family report in a timely fashion, and now days have passed since this particular viewing, so I shan't be dripping with humorous detail vis-a-vis the DVD goings-on of this episode.

It is called Progress and the Addams Family, aired sometime in 1965 for the first time (cf. TVLand for pertinent details, or perhaps the Dictionary of Who Cares).

In this remarkable episode, the house itself is the main character! We've had one for Pugsley, one for Lurch, how about the house? It seems that the state is going to build a freeway right through the Addams' property. The house must be moved or demolished. Our old friend, Mr. Henson, late of the insurance business, is now the able highway commissioner in charge of getting the Addams Family to vacate that piece of land.

Here's where my remembered details get sketchy. They have seat belts and they're buckled in to physically move the mansion. They are going to put it next door to Henson and Mrs. Henson, which in the end lights a fire under Henson to have the freeway rerouted. But actually not until the house is jacked up and moved a certain distance, with some interesting stock footage showing such things, and even the interesting glimpse of a bunch of people along the road watching.

The funniest line concerns Lurch, who is said to be hanging his head out a window, growling at people as they go by.

Mrs. Henson is a real delight in this show. She's a mixture of society woman and mouse, looking every bit the part of someone from a Three Stooges episode. The old order of prim propriety is well-preserved in some of these old shows. It makes you wonder what purpose they had in living, since the joy they knew entirely superficial, but that takes us into philosophical realms that dasn't be ventured upon today.

My big thought about this episode is how complicated it is. It seemed like it was put together with some loving care. I might think they'd try to rush these episodes through, and make them as simple as possible, but this one like so many of the others, has some complexity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Addams Family -- Morticia's Favorite Charity

Originally aired 4/16/1965, has aired several times since then, including last night on my very TV, via the medium of DVD, thanks to the current availability of numerous old TV series for personal viewing. I really like the idea. O, for money and time!

This episode I viewed while terribly sick, a spring cold, something that started in the throat and went then all the other places. Feeling like death warmed-over and alternately chilled what could be better for such a spirit than an episode of The Addams Family. Meaning, of course, that for one who doesn't laugh out loud at such things that often anyway, it was going to come across even less funny in this state.

I would call this episode something like a presentation episode. The characters, except for Mama, are presented as a whole. They are distinguished from one another without a focus on any one, then distinguished, as is common in the Addams' life, from the outside world. So what would that be, a tour de force or ensemble show?

There's not much to say about it except there's lots of great sight gags. They want to give items to the charity auction, which is headed up by our old insurance friend, Mr. Henson. The funniest thing in the show this time was him saying to another guy concerning Lurch that 'He's really a nice guy.' I thought that was a good touch, very humane in the place of all the usual wild-eyed revulsion you get when conventional meets freak on old shows. A great thing about the Addams, in the ideal world, would be that you really could get to know them, and go over for some hemlock tea and maybe turn them on to ordinary drinks as well.

Being sick, it was a joy seeing Lurch, who got to speak a punchline in this episode pertaining to the reprocurement of Pugsley's precious roaring clock, which was "Paid me $5 to take it." A punchy line, about all you could expect from Lurch with his real slow delivery. I really like the looks of Lurch, tons of make-up, apparently, a very beautiful guy. It made me wonder what he would've looked like if the show had gone on for a number of years, since I can't remember when he died; I think it was a number of years later.

Pugsley being up the chimney was not terribly funny. The bidding on the items, that the Addams would get back, was not very funny, but necessary for the plot. It didn't make any sense that Henson wouldn't recognize the bidders as Morticia and Gomez. Hello! Wednesday's speaking parts are so carefully enunciated, it makes me wonder about her as an actress. And Fester, beautiful Fester, is something of a Houdini, getting in and out of a suit of armor without so much as a creak. I liked him with his head in the bookpress, something that might've done me some good, although my sickness wasn't primarily a headache as he had.

Gomez was as great and dapper as always, very confident. Morticia as charming and beautiful as always. But no Mama, except a picture of her in the background. The moose clock and the other clock, the make of which has slipped my mind, was funny, as Gomez synchronized them. But that was toward the end and I was begging the episode to hurry up and be over so I could get to bed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Addams Family — My Son, The Chimp

This is a top notch episode, a fine one involving a case of mistaken identity or mistaken cause and effect.

Everybody is on board for this one, the kids and Mamma. Pugsley is greatly featured, mixed up with a stray monkey who's come into the house. Since Pugsley let the monkey have a spare shirt, identical to the one he always wears, and Uncle Fester is doing some magic conjuring, and Pugsley's back is against a forgotten revolving wall, you can guess what's about to happen. Fester throws some witch's ingredients on the charcoal and poof, Pugsley's gone and there's a monkey in a T-shirt just like his.

Morticia and Gomez are their usual cool selves. They want Pugsley back but they're not overly concerned about it. Mamma has a rivalry of sorts with Fester and calls his success in changing Pugsley "beginner's luck." There's some good gags on the old seance invitation to the spirits to 'knock once for yes,' etc., except they make it more complicated than necessary, directed toward Pugsley on the other side of the wall, and he doesn't know whether to scream, knock, or shut up. He's mainly back there reading old comic books anyway.

Fester looks suitably mystical in his big mystic's hat. Thing plays chess with Wednesday. I can't remember what Lurch does. He's playing the harpsichord right at the beginning, playing the Addams theme.

Nice one.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Addams Family — Meet the Spacemen

The episode is from April 2, 1965, "The Addams Family and the Spaceman"

There are some very funny bits in this episode.

Pugsley, not seen on camera, is up in his room firing rockets into space, seen as streaks of fire shot from a window. The local branch of a UFO investigation organization notices this activity and gears up to do their thing. This is very funny. They have two guys with lightning bolts on their hats, and an old professor who has spent some time learning what Martians say when they speak. The two guys have a brief snippet that's the funniest, when they're talking about this professor, how smart he is. Their investigation site has numerous electronics boxes setting there, cool set.

The Addams Family, out on a midnight picnic — leaving the children home with Mamma — hear on the radio that there's some unidentified flying object activity right in their neighborhood. So they're on the lookout. The investigators come out to see what they might find and spot the Addams, looking a bit other-worldly. Cousin Itt is along, in fine coif, and with his beeping, squeaking voice, could almost pass as an alien. Gomez is in a striped bathing suit, Fester has a moonshade hat on, Morticia's body is literally smoking, Thing is sticking out of a hole in a tree, and Lurch and Itt are together, enough to raise anyone's suspicions.

But of course the Addams think the investigators might be the spacemen.

When the action gets back to the house, there are lots of great sight gags that continue to suggest alien behavior. There's a lot of back and forth with the spacetalk that the professor has discovered. The Addams take the investigators captive, the professor shows up, and he has a lot of good "befuddled professor" moments. He's really one of the true highlights of the episode.

Such a good episode. There's so much weirdness, droll humor, characters' personality sides, on and on, and it all looks great, too.

Friday, May 04, 2007

My Chemical Romance -- The Black Parade


This is such a stunning, great album I can barely stop listening to it. I've been through the entire thing at least 10 times and love the sound completely.

The first I heard of these guys — and I don't know anyone's name, the singer, anybody — was the single "Welcome To The Black Parade" on the radio. It instantly became a favorite, very bombastic, over the top, suggestive of mortality and lots of other deep topics, the black plague maybe.

Viewing the video a few times, 'tis very nice and stylized, suggesting all the above and more. Kind of a proud slog through the basic dark experience our sad, persistent race has enjoyed or perhaps not so much.

The music of the album is thick, intense, theatrical, operatic, beautiful. The singer's voice is a beautiful one, spitting, with a very knowing tone throughout. Very proud and in your face, instantly lovable from the first track, "The End," a short one. "Dead!" follows. Such a punchy, great track. Nothing like beginning with The End and Dead. For all the apparent bleak tones — which are obscured down there somewhere — there is a lot of joy and sweetness to this album.

The album has so much energy, layers upon layers of sound, much of it so far over the top that you'll have a hard time coming back down. Highly recommended!!!!!

(As to the parental notice thingy, there's a few bits of language. You probably wouldn't want your third grader singing some of the songs in school or around the house.)

The Addams Family — Morticia, the Breadwinner

DVD, The Addams Family, TV shows, "Morticia, the Breadwinner," from Vol. 2 of the collected episodes.

This is a very fast-paced episode, with Gomez very manic in his buying on the stock market. We cut back and forth between him and his broker. Gomez is quite the high-roller. Since we all know he likes to watch his train sets crash and burn, he wants controlling interest in an actual railroad, the Big Swamp and Southern Railway, I think it was called. It's tough getting controlling interest, though, when you're a hundred shares short and there's no more for sale.

While on the phone, Gomez laments with the broker about someone else's trouble, how they're broke, busted, out of money. Morticia and Fester overhear this little snippet of dialogue and assume that Gomez means that he himself is broke, the family fortune gone. And so we get the title, "Morticia, the Breadwinner," along with the rest of the family, who decide to take odd jobs without letting on to Gomez that they know of his troubles. He has no idea, of course, and is still very profligate in his spending — making an order for $1,000 new cigars, for example — making Fester think it might be better if Gomez died, so they could live on his life insurance.

The odd jobs: Lurch and Fester open an escort service. Morticia sets up to teach fencing and tango lessons. Mamma seeks to offer beauty advice, figuring that her beautician skills relating to hair care ought to make some money. And the kids, Wednesday and Pugsley, are selling henbane by the drink on the sidewalk. Even with a black skull and crossbones for their logo and their henbane steaming like dried ice, a kindly gentleman still gives them a quarter for a glass.

Everyone is in great form for this episode. There's so much going on, and of course it's all so absurd, it's definitely a great episode. It's good to have the entire family. The children so sweetly say "Mother" when addressing Morticia. Gomez has a winning way with the kids. And there are numerous sight gags, including a big two headed turtle they have, and the "heirlooms" in the safe.

Finally, to get the needed 100 shares of the railroad, there's a fierce battle, a bidding war for shares Morticia and Fester have. She wants to use a fake name and suggests "Jones," but Fester asks "What kind of name is that?" Ha ha. Smith will be better. Gomez is relentless in bidding, and all's well that ends well. Except for one little thing concerning the railroad. Oh well!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Flipping Stop Signs

I saw two school buses head to head today, each with its stop sign flipped out. Here we have a standoff, like in the old law that if two trains meet neither can move until the other's gone. In this case, each driver can flip the stop sign back in. But it seems like in the driver's manual it says something like this, that you can't pass a stopped school bus. I don't remember anything about the stop sign being part of it. The only hope is that any inching forward no longer constitutes being stopped, so they're going to be OK.

We don't have enough flipping signs on vehicles. I'd like to have a few signs on my car, to flip out whenever I needed. Like a "Please don't follow so close" sign, maybe. One I like is the sign on the back of trucks that says "Stay Back 50 Feet," but if you did that how would you ever get around? How would you read the sign. Well, 50 feet, you could probably still read it.

There used to be the "Baby on Board" signs, but they didn't flip out. That would've made a more powerful point. "I've got a baby on board, and I don't think you care!"

You don't see too many American flags stuck inside doors and waving for all the world to see as the car goes through town. As to the constant waving of flags, hey, do you think we forgot what country we're in?

The Addams Family - Lurch and His Harpsichord

The third episode on the DVD, vol. 2, collected episodes of The Addams Family, a fine collection of crisp, nice, black and white old TV shows (nice so far, anyway)...

This episode focuses in on Lurch's love for music, especially as it is comes forth from a beautiful old Krupnik harpsichord. I couldn't tell exactly which Krupnik model it was, but they're all good.

Lurch is playing, conducted by gloved Thing with baton; Gomez and Morticia are dancing and romancing; Fester is there. The rest of the family is away for the episode. A nice old gentleman comes by, recognizes the beauty of the playing, recognizes the Krupnik, and wants it for the museum. Gomez immediately gives it away, leaving Lurch feeling blue, which is very justified under the circumstances.

So we have the sad sight of Lurch crying, quitting, about to go home to his mother. The others decide to build another Krupnik, which, considering their lack of skill and the constant references to Gomez' and other Addams' failures, comes out as a nice instrument. No one ever complains, like I was expecting, that this is a faux Krupnik, and there aren't any clinkers in the playing.

Of course it all ends well, and Lurch can go on playing, doesn't have to quit, none of that.

In this episode I was thinking about the Addams, exactly what they're supposed to be. I always associated them with being haunted, or monstrous in certain ways. They have Itt and Thing and various other relatives they refer to, and Morticia's in her Vampira dress, and on and on. But in other ways they're nearly so conventional as to be bland. The music is nothing freaky. The artwork around the main room -- guy's leg sticking out of a big fish, a giraffe with clothes on -- seems more surreal than monstrous. No, they're not the Munsters, but just more or less eccentric, yet not so eccentric in other ways. As for all of Gomez's failures - such as being an attorney who wouldn't be able to adequately defend the old guy supposedly from the museum - how did he get to be an attorney in the first place? He seems pretty successful, so it doesn't all fit. The show is about suspending belief, yet what is put before us is not really all that radical. It makes me wonder about what kind of specifications the writers got, what kind of discussions they had to have, about how weird it should be, and how the various pieces of background - relatives, the Addams' psychology, etc. - where supposed to fit. The possibilities for the show, with the sit-com format and all the rest, seem so finite.

But it's a good show, especially for the appearance of it all. Just looking them, they're iconic.

I liked how Lurch was able to go from classical, minuet music almost involuntarily into a rock riff, just with a few flicks of Thing's hand.

And as for his crying, good thing they had the laugh track, because with a studio audience, there would've been those sickening, "Ahhhhs," you hear in a few more recent shows.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Agent Nine Solves His First Case

This is a "review," or a survey of a book I got the other day.

It was written by Graham M. Dean, published by Goldsmith in the 1930s. It was in that whole genre of boy's literature, in the same basic line of the older Tom Swift books. These books involve all kinds of adventures that boys would be interested in.

But how do you like the title, giving away the whole ending. For all I knew, the hero would try his best and be killed. Fat chance. The subtitle is "A Story of the Daring Exploits of the 'G' Men."

Agent Nine starts out as mere Bob Houston, youthful clerk in the archives division of the War Department. He works in Washington, D.C., and his uncle — Merritt Hughes — is an agent, I believe, for the Justice Department. It's almost the FBI without using that name. The head of the department is a guy named Waldo EDGAR and some of his mannerisms are said in such a way that it sounds like the author is trying to allude to someone else.

Among the other characters are Tully Ross, who is the Anti-Bob-Houston, same department; and he has a corollary uncle, Condon Adams, who is the Anti-Merritt-Hughes. I say "anti," although neither one is actually a BAD guy. But if there's any sneering, undercutting, goofing off, callousness, or screwing up, it's likely to be Tully or Condon doing it. But Bob and Merritt are entirely straight-shooters. Bob does get angry and lashes out, but it's at Tully or Condon, whose ways, while commended and more or less successful, are not quite as straight.

The plot involves radio secrets, some radio progress the government has come up with that nefarious powers want to get their greedy little hands on. There are two copies of this particular document, a one page document. One shows up at the archives department where it needs to be filed in a cabinet and kept. That's Bob's department. Tully is there in the mix, but he's not supposed to be in this particular filing cabinet, which he is, slightly.

The paper disappears in a scary section, in which Bob is trapped in a long office with a sinister figure in the dark. This section is completely unbelievable, unbelievably bad. There's simply no way it could ever have happened that it would be so dark, so long an office, that Bob and this sinister figure could be crawling around, guns blazing, hiding behind desks, between cabinets, etc., etc., without the sinister figure eventually being able to get Bob. But Bob is not a wilting violet in all this; he can and does fight back.

We progress then to searching for the lost document, and this involves some near scrapes for Bob, who after several adventures is promoted (with Tully) to a grade just below actual agent. Now he needs to really bear down and find out what's going on. Merritt and he are in a shoot-out, a pretty good scene down a torn-up road, with a shot-out hulk of a cab and the nefarious force's big old car. But Merritt is suddenly gone, and now it's up to Bob to find him, find the paper, and bring the story to a conclusion. Condon is responsible for one of the nefarious guys getting away. Tully is acting kind of surly, without ever crossing into bad guy territory.

Through a series of clues and good breaks, also by virtue of his straight, winning ways, Bob comes up with some of the answers. It's still nip and tuck all the way, and the clues aren't automatic. The agency needs to work to get them. Bob has the good sense to tell any hesitant contact that he is a Federal Agent, and they then bow to his authority.

At the end, as the title suggests, the case is solved. The last sentence promises the reader more great adventures in "Agent Nine and the Jewel Mystery."

The Addams Family — Crisis In The Addams Family

This is the second episode on the Volume 2 DVD set, The Addams Family show from the '60s. Original airdate, March 12, 1965.

Wednesday, Pugsley, Mamma are nowhere to be found in this episode.

The whole set-up involves Gomez and Fester's activities in cannon-shooting and being pirates, admirals on the high seas. They have a picture of a boat on the wall, which gets shot and then becomes a boat split in half with water coming from the plumbing behind.

They need to file an insurance claim. We cut to their insurance agents, who have gotten lots of claims from the Addams Family. They want out of the policy, and find that if they pay off another little claim the policy will be cancelled. In the meantime, Fester wants to get a job, and gets one at the insurance agency. He sells Gomez a million dollar policy, which Gomez actually talks himself into buying since Fester is a poor salesman.

Gomez is fabulously wealthy, which detail I had forgotten. And it turns out that he has some controlling interest in the insurance company. So any problem from this point on, is covered by insurance, but since he owns the company, it's really his responsibility.

On this episode I was keying in on John Austin's very punchy portrayal of Gomez. He was very dynamic and exaggerated, great things going on with the eyes, gestures. He really seemed to relish the part. It's good in a role like this, not that there are that many, to really overplay it. And that striped suit always looks pretty good, which he even wore when he was parachute jumping. Also, I like Carolyn Jones' very demur, confident tone for Morticia. Very pretty and nice.

Lurch had some appearances. He takes the hats from the insurance agents, and has that scary look when they show up. And he's bringing tea to Fester's room when he's not feeling well. It's a very crisp looking show, the plots are exaggerated nonsense but still delightful anyway in their own way.

Fester is always a treasured portrayal. He looks ridiculous, yet weirdly iconic, sitting with the normal people in the insurance office. I'd like to take the gawkers by the scruff and say, "Hey, that's Fester! He's going to be well-known long after you're gone!"

The Addams Family — Thing Is Missing

I got the volume 2 of the Addams Family show on the DVD the other day. I usually like to start with volume 1 and keep all my ducks in a row, but it couldn't be helped.

First episode continues from season one, out of two seasons total. Only two seasons, huh? But back then they made more shows in a season. I used to watch it on reruns and don't remember a lot of repetition, but it was never a big priority to focus on it.

When I get them on DVD, of course you're going in sequence and it all seems so TV-scholarly, like on TV Land when they tell the episode number and all that.

The first episode on this set is "Thing Is Missing," which involves one of the most famous hands of the '60s. Fester and the family have apparently made Thing feel like he's taken for granted, not appreciated, not valued as much as he should be. So he disappears and there's a ransom to be paid to get him back, which Gomez is glad to pay.

It's only been a couple days since I saw it and I've already forgotten the details. I was thinking more about what Thing is supposed to be and whether he lives in a small box or a box that goes way down. One of the characters shouted into the box and got a pretty serious echo back. If he's in a regular box on the table, and they open it, wouldn't he have to be laying there. Or is he a creature down below who only sticks up his hand. If that were the case, they wouldn't refer to him as only a hand when describing his disappearance. And in the movie, which I saw part of, it seems like he was nothing more than a hand walking around. But in the show, doesn't he come up in various boxes around the house? So he would need passage ways below the furniture, the floors, to get from one box to another. So, I'm worried more about stuff like that, and I forget the other details.

As an episode it was OK. I can imagine how it'd be to write the episodes. You need to feature the different characters, focus on them, and this seems like a natural enough one for a Thing that doesn't have much else to do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Brilliant, great, wonderful, lovely in every way. What a special album, one that is good from start to finish. There's an intricate sound to it. Some of the guitars sound very live, like a friend sitting casually strumming an electric guitar. That's a cool touch of informality. The rest of the sound, from a very subtle violin, whistling, an occasional female voice, drums, some thick stuff in there as well, along with Andrew Bird's beautiful voice is amazing.

And once you've heard the songs a couple times, some of the tunes are in your mind and you feel like you've known them forever. Speaking for myself, that is. The song titles are interesting, too, like the album's name, "Armchair Apocrypha." Titles like Imitosis, Plasticities, Heretics, Darkmatter, Scythian Empires... Some mystery in all that, but "Armchair" definitely sounds like a way to make the mystery more accessible.

There's also a lot going on in the background. The songs are layered and with some complexity, even with quickly picked up melodies and choruses. If you listen with earbuds, it's a rewarding experience. I haven't actually heard it any other way yet, but I really like the detail this way. I've heard the album four or five times, and love it.

Highly recommended.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Elliott Yamin, His First Album

Elliott Yamin - Elliott Yamin

I'm glad Elliott's out there with a career, an album, his own niche. He was a great guy on American Idol, sort of shy, with various rough spots in his life and health, and blessed with a very nice mother. I liked seeing them in the parade on one of the episodes, getting the happiness of their hometown friends.

Throughout the album, Elliott's voice is nice and smooth; he could endorse throat lozenges, and it's nice to hear. This is a good album that could be better. But if you put it on and read, sewed, worked on scrapbooking, looked at photo albums, you would find it very pleasant.

The songs are of a older, laid-back style, with several modern nods. One of the tracks, "Wait For You," brings Chris Brown to mind. There are some jazzy moments, like "Movin' On" right at the start of the album. There's one track, "Find A Way," that comments on social issues, but with so much middle-of-the-road idealism that it wouldn't be disagreeable to normal people.

Elliott's voice is in fine form throughout. He can sing and has that beautiful smoothness. Also, he sings with great conviction, even when the relationship songs he's singing don't rise far above the generic variety. They're pleasing in tone, in tune, they just don't go very far in saying much.

"Free" has some very pretty background work, and Elliott sounds great in the mix. "Tell me what you're hiding from ... hold fast to your dreams ... don't be afraid to fly, alone in the sky. When you do then you'll be free ... nothing is impossible ... you will achieve the unexplainable ... I believe that miracles happen..." I really like this song, it's very nice, one of my faves. But then "Alright" is not a favorite with its disco feel. The disco effects seem foreign to the album's overall feel.

Then "Take My Breath Away." I really don't want a song that brings Rex Smith's "You Take My Breath Away" to mind. It's a song to "Girl, when you do what you do to me..." One of those. "You take my breath away." The song is probably OK, from a reputable songwriting mill somewhere (not breeding mongrels and open for inspection), but it gets my low moment vote.

The album ends with "A Song For You," which he sang on the show, one of the connections to Donny Hathaway that he made on the show. It sounds great, very familiar and nice, with just Elliott and the piano.

This is a good album, a good start for Elliott. Any true fan will love it, hope for his success, and, as they say on American Idol, hope he raises the bar next time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Ponys - Turn The Lights Out

The Ponys - Turn The Lights Out. A good album. Good for just listening, walking, running, reading. Very basic rock sound with a live feel. Excellent guitar sounds. Vocals are low-key and good. Nothing real demanding about it, which might sound like a bad comment but I mean it in the best way. One time through and it's like a comfortable couch. Some of the songs should be longer.

1) Double Vision - (3:37) Exciting group sound, very nice left/right listening, thick, textured, immediately appealing sound. The bass is sneaking around, making itself known here and there. Very thick sound and nice.

2) Everyday Weapon - (2:20) Opens with feedback, then full blast. Guitar isn't clear but with distortion, like in the first track. "They'll take the skin right off our bones," the vocals are more excited in this one. Lead guitar gets up there and has some nice swirling effects melting it away. The instruments are great. That is a short song.

3) Small Talk - (4:13) Exact same sound to get it started, insistent drum. Verse is tuneful, with vocal echoes. Wow, cool guitar, more swirling, like rolled barbed wire, but short. I really like that stuff, and here it comes again, wowwwing, and now a solo off the melody. Musical bit in the middle is nicely extended. The guitar is almost droning, a single note vibrating. Then a sweet acidic guitar conversation, like guitars conquering the world, lovely song all the way.

4) Turn the Lights Out - (2:36) Starts off very laid-back, appealing vocal with lethargic, "Pull the covers over me." Perfect sounds of the instruments. Vocals and sound gets more demanding and louder, and it goes back and forth. The guitar meandering around is comforting to hear, it sounds so real, an integral part of what's going on. Speaking of family and friends, turning the lights out on you tonight. Great one. Title track.

5) 1209 Seminary - (3:06) "I sit and watch the chill of the city, how your children grow." The music and vocals are stunning, impressive. The album has a real live group sound to it. The vocals are restrained, not dominating. The guitar solos are all very pleasant without being 100% predictable. The title sounds like the address of a place.

6) Shine - (4:21) Opens with single guitar, then some high acid notes from another. The vocals are again not at the very top. The singing is psychedelic, trippy. The music also has a hazy, drifting sound. Some extended notes. Guitar solo is actually more conventional on this one, but with some additional thickness and interplay. There are some strong chords being worked on, with the same notes hit many times, getting higher. Trippy, excellent track.

7) Kingdom of Hearts - (2:03) This song is like the others in many ways, the same vibe between them. This one also has a certain trippiness, especially in the vocals, with the guitars going like that, getting stronger in it all the time, then a hugely pretty middle instrumental section. Too short a song.

8) Poser Psychotic - (3:44) A feel to the song to match the title. The singing is half buried in the instruments. The fuzzy guitars have center stage and they go nice places. The singing is very appealing, understated and integral, poetic feel. This is a hard rock sound that also is mellow.

9) Exile On My Street - (2:20) Melodic guitar opening, about 40 seconds. Vocals are a lot more in your face on this one, but short bursts only, then back to the guitar melody. Short song, 2:20. Vocals go back to half buried toward the end.

10) Harakiri - (3:28) Distorted sound right at the beginning, tough bass and drums, half buried cranked up guitar on right side. Very cool instrumental effects and vocal. Appealing song, psychedelic guitar solo. Distortion used to good effect.

11) Maybe I'll Try - (2:56) Vocals on top of you, alternating wavering notes to the music, and single drum hits. Then they launch into the whole thing. I think he said, "Maybe I'll try to feel again when I'm dead." The songs are very accessible the first time. Funny, brief chipmunks voice overlaid on the right side toward the end.

12) Pickpocket Song - (6:24) Basic rock group sound, insistent sound in there with one repeated note, then changes with the chord, then back. Sounds like a garage group, and nice effort by them. More limited sound so far than some of the other songs, still appealing. Same fuzz, thickness, vocals happening but no big deal. Wow, there was something that happened, the middle music bit, like Jerry Lee Lewis piano, several seconds, then a lot of going every which way. I love it now. Getting more overlaid with tracks, instruments, noises, effects, swirling to a very pleasing ending? No, almost 3 minutes left, great. This is good sounding stuff. They're having fun throwing it all in, making the most of it on this song. Get it, you'll like it. Very excellent track! Perfect ending song, too.

This is the line-up of songs as downloaded at Napster. The title had [Standard] in brackets like that, so there might be other versions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

American Idol Tonight

Stephanie got voted off. I thought she was great. Not great last night, but all the times before. And about perfect looking. She wasn't shown in the auditions or performing at Hollywood week, that I remember seeing, yet ended up in the top 24, then the top 11. I was real impressed with her, so I'm sad to see her go.

It's even sadder considering some of the crumb bums who are left.

The episode last night was mostly boring. I wasn't into it at all. I'm not big on Shirley Bassey songs. When you say "British Invasion" you're not talking about singers who did James Bond theme songs, except Paul McCartney much later. "British Invasion" doesn't mean "Tell Him," which was by an American group. Just because it was covered by someone from England, no, no good. Then we had LaKisha doing some big cabaret thing, Stephanie something like that, Jordin doing one of the world's most awful songs, "I Who Have Nothing." Yikkus.

It was pretty obvious whose songs were considered edgy enough to sound contemporary today, the Zombies, Kinks, Stones. Not Hermans Hermits even though Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone was on the show. Sanjaya considered doing "I'm Into Something Good," and if Sanjaya avoids your song, you know it's passe. So he goes with "You Really Got Me." He had a lot of great moves all over the place and really put a lot into it. But still, we know he's no good, so it wasn't a joy to behold. And seeing the little girl cry got to be too much. Someone did "Time of the Season" (Blake), and "She's Not There" (Chris S.) And Gina, was it? did "Paint It Black." She's not convincing as a rocker girl.

OK, all that, that brings us to tonight. Peter Noone did his song, "There's A Kind of Hush." I actually like Hermans Hermits records, but passe is a word that definitely comes to mind. It really seemed odd and like from another galaxy. Lulu did "To Sir With Love," which is a pretty good song, and she belted it out. It was nice to see them on the stage for another moment in the limelight, but, in Peter Noone's case especially, I don't know that it'll win him many new fans. Which probably isn't the point. He was the cutest guy in the '60s. Even though Peter Frampton was the "Face of 1968," I don't think many people remember that, Peter Noone was the face of the rest of the decade. Cute, like Paul McCartney but more so. (Oh, I forgot Davy Jones.) Now that he's old, like all of us, he reminded me of the Crocodile Hunter. Super cute people never look that great when they age. There are probably exceptions, so don't hold me to that.

Getting to the final two was a quick process. Three up, safe. Three more, safe. Three more, safe, too. That leaves Chris Richardson and Stephanie. A bunch of other things to get to, then at the end, Stephanie out. Sad. They didn't have her sing at the end.

Chris Sligh - There was an article, I think at the Washington Post today, about someone at his old college, Bob Jones University, worrying that he, as a Christian singer, is doing secular music. That's worth looking for.

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

I listened to this album yesterday, and the first song a few times, and Dashboard a couple times. So by now it ought to be in my album file up there, where everything seems familiar, good, and orderly. Going by my personal principle that any album I don't like the first time could very well be one of my favorites, this one was half and half.

But now for a fresh listening, I insert the earbuds into those waxy things on the side of my head and get ready for the joy of music. Here's what I know about Modest Mouse, nothing. I've heard the name several times over the years from checking out usenet music groups. That's it. Plus what I listened to yesterday, that's it. I understand they had a hit single, "Float On," and someone did one of their songs on American Idol, and their album is stocked at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is no one's favorite store, but once your album is there it generally means you're in the mainstream; they don't stock much marginal music.


1) March Into The Sea - Accordion, then I know it becomes something more raucous. Mad scientist voice, or mad sea captain voice, thrashing about on deck. I like the wimpy innocent voice a little ways in. It's kind of Flaming Lips or Starlight Mints. The sea captain part has to be a fun one to sing. This is actually a pretty good song, now that it's in that section of my head. I didn't care for it the first time. The music is loping, with a strong guitar, minor note sound, and edging in violin; "bang your head like a gong...clang clang." Builds like a waltz, much madness swirling about, the singer in anguish.

2) Dashboard - I really like this one. It's a very conventional sounding song, straightforward. "The dashboard melted but we still have the radio." The voices are eccentric, cool answers by the background guys. Musical interlude, very pretty, this is an excellent song. Driving beat, like an '80s sound. "Would've been, could'a been worse than you ever know." Tiny giants and tinier giants. Just listening, what it's all about, I don't know. I read the lyrics yesterday, and that didn't help much, but it might've just been me.

3) Fire It Up - Starts very orderly, dot dot dot dot. "Fire it up, when we finally turn it over, make a beeline toward the boulder, we have a drink, you've had enough." Hanging out on the shore, leaving our clothes there. Guitars make a kind of echo to the lyrics, wa wa wa wa wa. Sounds sentimental in the middle, sentimentality I like. The "fire it up" phrase is sweet, too. These guitars are great. Vocal interplay neat, playing with the words, I like. Wa wa wa wa wa again. "Like trying to save an ice cube from the cold." Good line. This song is really great. Tones going up in beautiful way toward the end.

4) Florida - Manic beginning, vocals and guitars. Chorus part very pretty, though I can't understand the words. There's a cool collapsing part, like an insert. "Florida!" Now we have the collapsing bit a couple more times, really nice. Hope that's clear enough. How do you describe music anyway? Manic guy is back, guitars answer like boards falling over. Ha ha.

5) Parting of the Sensory - Before this one starts, I had the feeling it was something like dying, or parting of the veil, yesterday. It made me think of spiritualists, like Madame Blavatsky or something that I don't know much about. Maybe it's not. Let me listen again. It seemed like the heart of the record. "Carbon's anniversary," is that what it says? "The parting of the sensory." Like you're carbon and you're going to rejoin the all, become building blocks for other beings. The music is laid-back yet eccentric, a good word. Violin is morose. "She's parting again, if you please." "Who the hell made you the boss?" "The weather changed for the worst." Big music notes, building, like a whack in the head. "A trip to the exact same spot." "We're lost." You can't get lost. Music really wild and great in this bit. "Sometimes you will die and somehow something's going to steal your carbon." This is going to be repeated over and over. It's good. Hoe-down music toward the end. All confused about who's going to die and what's going to happen to the carbon.

6) Missed The Boat - Sounds real nice and conventional (which is also good) to start. I like comfort, too. "Change the subject, I was knocking on your ears." Sentimental and yearning stuff, while sounding edgy. Very pretty stuff, so accessible, sounds autobiographical in the extreme, proclamations about how it's been, self-indulgent, like this post. It's not like there's any reason to hold back, is there? After all, who cares. It's only the noosphere that cares anyway. This might be a song I wouldn't like that much in the long-run, because it's so much like what I've said, like "Creeque Alley," I only like that stuff briefly. But I do love Boston's "Rock 'n' Roll Band." Guitars, nice.

7) We've Got Everything - Thank goodness we have an edgy opening, angular guitars. The vocals are edgy but also very accessible. When I heard this stuff yesterday it sounded foreign, today it's like an old shoe. Telling what various ones did, listing the guys, and saying "We've done everything, like trial by fire, so I guess we'll stop trying now." This is also a very sentimental song. Rockers are always the most sentimental people. Explain that. Country guys look for the clever turn of phrase, rockers knit doilies.

8) Fly Trapped In A Jar - This one is going to open with fly buzzing, that I believe morphs into a guitar, distorted at first, then revealing itself in clarity. Or maybe not. Crazy vocal style, like a comic voice. "One wing isn't even enough." Interesting sounding verses. Sharp pointed instruments. Something about Gary, and I hadn't noticed. The words sound easy to come up with, since it can be anything. You could make this up as you go along. The guitars recall the fly. "We were already dead."

9) Education - Bass, bass, with the crazy vocal. The guitars sound a lot like "Fly Trapped" guitars. In fact the tune reminds me of the last song, but I'm not backing up. Hadn't lived enough to even die. Death comes up again. Guitars in the middle, nice vibrato, and close up secondary vocals, shortly there. I don't care for the vocal style that much on this song. It's similar to some of the others, but by now it's wearing out its welcome. Plus I'm getting hungry and it's still an hour to American Idol. Books on the shelf looking much smarter than me, I can identify with it. I should look up the words to this one.

10) Little Motel - Starts very peacefully. I would like to hear it go like that. The vocal from track 1 is back. I usually think of this voice when I think of indie rock. "Sinking ships" and adrift. "That's what I'm waitin' for," a nice refrain, lips, darlin'. Very pretty singing and group vocals. If I was a single track downloader, I'd go for this one, and a few others. I'll summarize in a bit. It's just sweet, like drifting along. This is the first day of Spring, too. So it's a good song for robins to bill and coo to, then nine months later a nest of blue eggs. Just a nice nice nice song. You might burn this one for Grandma, or the kids.

11) Steam Engenius - "I was born in a factory," then I don't get it. Back to edgy, good spitting out style, great instruments edging in. This vocal is the one that can deteriorate into the crazy sea captain voice, but it hasn't yet. So far it's good. And the background "Wa hoo" noises are good. Good hard rocking song, very verbose but not easily understandable. Pops down to a drum and high bass thing, and the vocals more plaintive. Voices harmonizing, but with some freedom. Now back into it. I have no idea what this song is about, but it has a great vibe. Factory songs get to me, really, I always think of the Kinks "Workin' in the Factory" song, or a title something like that. I used to walk country roads singing it, shouting at various people who weren't there.

12) Spitting Venom - Acoustic guitar and insistent voice. "Talkin' soda pop ... opinions I ain't got ... let it all drop." "You were spittin' venom at most everything you know." Let it drop, electric guitar appears in the background. Kind of a Leon Russell vocal. Now the guitars and full orchestral array is in evidence, with the same tune blasted out. This is a long track. There's still 6 minutes at this point. Can I make it? 5:00 to go and the acoustic guy is back. Horns, a musical intermission here. Introducing more and more, something of a shift in the vocal, not clear what he's saying. The music is a nice section. Like an extended build-up that is very slow and intentional, no rushing it. It was getting kind of boring at about 5:00 to go, then the whole ending section was great. I can't believe the track flipped and redeemed itself like that. But I loved hearing it. 40 seconds to go, and we're in this delicious musical madness.

13) People As Places As People - Straightforward rock song-sounding thing. Good, workman-like, hammered out, so far. Sounds like Dick Dale on guitar for a second there. Humorous, playful lyrics and style. Again, a good musical section right in the middle, like Japanese something. Funky drums, F-bomb, hurt my ears. I saw on Napster they had like three or four tracks marked "Explicit." An OK song, nothing special, average, there, now it's passing.

14) Invisible - Segueing into this song, neat sharp instruments, I really might cut myself, this is sharp, driving, big bad vocals, the hard edged rock style again. The instruments are cool to the extreme, pushing me out to the dance floor to do the Mashed Potato or whatever dance is hot these days. Only 2:31 to go. This could be a song to extend out, and tamp down the vocals to an inside voice. I haven't paid much attention to the words, because the music is so nice. Good innocent vocal is back, and some effects on the vocals, burying them behind a droning build-up, to the sharp, meat carving guitars. 30 seconds to go, and let me say that was an enjoyable time, except for all the typing. But it went by pretty fast.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good Advice

Bush was on TV, very defiant of Congress. He made what he called "a reasonable proposal" to have his aides go to Congress for an interview, but nothing more. Because he wants to keep it so aides will be able to keep giving him "good advice" without being hauled before Congress to tell what they said. My question would be, when has he ever gotten "good advice"? Or does he just reject it?

He definitely sounded like someone with something to hide. Otherwise, just put it out there. He said he didn't want to establish a precedent, but one of the reporters said there were already precedents of this very thing happening. He acknowledged that was so.

Tarzan of the Apes

I've never read a Tarzan book. I used to watch some of the movies on TV. They used to show them on Saturdays in the afternoon, black and white adventures in which Tarzan did all the great things he's known for. Lots of swinging, Cheetah noises, Boy, Jane. And I seem to remember a lot of swimming, and underwater fights where Tarzan could hold his breath and fight for maybe five, six minutes.

Today I was at a thrift store and got an old hardback book of the book simply called "Tarzan of the Apes." It lists some of the other Tarzan titles in the series, so it can't be a first edition, unless Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote five or six books and then published them. Doubtful.

It's not in very good condition, the binding is askew and there's some splitting at the back hinge, and various other problems. But 1914, a kid's book, it's a good one to find. Really, I'm kind of glad it's beat because I don't have the same motivation to sell it or treat it like a great collectible. Maybe I'll just lay in bed and read a little bit every night and dream of adventures out in the jungle with the original swinger.

The Classmate with the Hair

Probably almost everyone's seen these pictures of "classmates" in internet ads, I guess they're supposed to represent classmates from high school who are out there, we don't know where. Or maybe it's a site where you can look up your old buddies, I've never clicked on it.

This guy with the hair, maybe he doesn't want to be found. When you go back to the reunions, it's amazing how different the hair is from when we were in class. Yet, there are still those who cling to the style of the time, from back in the day. And it looks really bad, especially on the men. Gray pony tails, other gnarly features.

Today this ad had kind of a nasty placement on CNN, on the same page as the news of the college student who was electrocuted and found weeks later.

Stephen Colbert Takes on Rahm Emmanuel

I thought that was great last night. Colbert doesn't miss any of this stuff. Rahm ought to be ashamed of himself. He doesn't want congress folks to go on the Colbert Report. Sure, Colbert skewers them, and gets them to skewer themselves, but we know it's all just humor, right?

I loved the bit where Colbert had his middle finger in a ring box, up through the bottom. That was the funniest part. But I didn't know Rahm is supposedly missing part of a finger. Assuming that is true, it was even funnier. Colbert and his middle finger is real good, like a couple weeks ago when he was taking on the head guy of Viacom.

We Reserve the Right to Lie to Your Face

In the attorney general, political firings scandal, the White House is in their usual crazed mode. Congress wants Rove and Miers to testify, but the response from the White House is that they agree to be interviewed, not under oath, and no transcript.

Not under oath? Is there any poor deluded soul out there still today that believes a peep that comes out of this corrupt White House? They lie, they lie, they lie, and of course they lie about lying. To say you'd submit to an interview but not under oath is nothing but more of the same. 'I'll say what I want to say and I will not be held accountable for it.'

C'mon, Congress. Nail these guys.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, album, track by track...

I actually never heard of these guys before today. So technically that disqualifies me from commenting. But hey, I have to fill this blog up with something. Plus, I like music, so, technicalities aside, I guess I'm as qualified as anyone. I'm always sort of amazed when I read reviews of albums at All Music how they're able to know an artist's entire career, like they were there the day the guy made his first baby cry. I'm more like a guy who looks up once in a while and whatever I happen to see I see. So they could've been knocking off albums for the last 40 years and I'd never know it.

So, without further ado, further self-disqualification, let me say, this is an OK album, if you like this sort of thing. I personally like songs with words, singing more. Or something that is strongly melodic or obviously of a piece. This album has a lot of interesting bits, but the songs go five different directions, if you know what I mean. My favorite track is "What Do You Go Home To?" I like the whole droning, building, developing bits. My least favorite is the long one, "It's Natural to be Afraid." It could've been split into three or four songs and no one would've known the difference.

1) The Birth and Death of the Day - (7:49) Starts like a 20 truck pileup. Then the day is born, nice day, taking the dog out for a walk, recalling my own day. Not music for music's sake, though I'm only going by the title and the peaceful guitars back and forth, left and right. Very pretty with a mounting cymbal thing back there. Then whaaaa, big guitar strums. Following that, it all piles up again, with raging drums, and wild wild guitars. Ah, and I was about to have an afternoon nap. This reminds me of an overture. We'll see what comes next. The drums are being damaged. 6:15, another down to peacefulness moment, and with a minute to go that's where it is. This is coming over my tiny computer speakers, so I'm not getting the full effect.

2) Welcome, Ghosts - (5:43) Segues into it, with pretty guitars leading the way, then drums announcing we're going somewhere else. But a minute in and we're not there yet. Now the drum beat changes to something else, with the same kind of guitar answering, echoing each other back and forth. 2:40, and we're into a peaceful reverie, like drifting along, maybe like the picture on the cover. 3:27, back to some of the most pronounced drums I've heard, and guitars appropriate for that. In fact, we're back and forth, nice, manic music perhaps not for the masses. I'm not personally too into it. I'm trying to imagine how it'd be to run to this, or do anything else to it except listen.

3) It's Natural To Be Afraid - (13:27) Huge, long track coming up. Begins with some effects, like backwards snippets played, and meandering instruments, noodling to atmosopheric effect. There's a somber, kind of scary bommm and minor-note sounding guitars, scary, dare I listen alone? This one would be good to listen to if you were creeping around a building said to be haunted, like those guys on Sci Fi channel. It's menacing, with a great title to match. I'm expecting a bunch of bats to swoop in. Soundtrack for a haunting. "Welcome, Ghosts" and now this. There's some nice centered distortion, like a dozen off channel radio stations being monitored at one time. But it's going on a bit long. You have anything like that for a prolonged time, it becomes oppressive. 4:00, that's fading out, and another jaunt out by the lilies and rippling brook, a few clouds in the sky, slightly melancholy. This is like a new song in here, but it still has a noodling quality. Like we're not exactly going anywhere. That's all interrupted at about 6:27, a renewed drum/cymbal guitar exchange, now ongoing. The notes, like in most music, are going up and down. 8:02, we're changing the pace a little, more driving, but that faded quickly, very quickly. I liked that bit, too. 9:19, going nuts with the drums, loud, fast guitars. Wild bit starts here. So don't doze off if you're listening to this album. That happens in Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony, you'll recall, just when you're about dead, boom! It kills you again. Pathetique. I don't know, this is just like one big noodling-around track. But it IS natural to be afraid. At 11:43, the backwards snippets like at the beginning return. So we're going to be noodling around the remainder of the track.

4) What Do You Go Home To? - (4:59) Starts off with what sounds like killer bees on piano. A shimmering note appears from down below, maybe up above, and drones for a time, like tuning. Then a bundle of other notes ease in, then a swirling piano riff, and all together, with the killer bees more or less vanished. This one has lots of instrumental sounds coming together like a quilt. Someone takes charge about 2:45, then a drum. This is a good track, very droning, moaning, yet tinkling, pounding, purposeful. In a way it's like the noises of a factory with many different workers making one thing. At about the 4:00 mark, it's slowed down, no drum, with the killer bees drone returned and predominating. It has a kind of subtle vibrato to it, then at 4:30 it's faded, with a piano and a few notes. One single note fills in the last 10 seconds.

5) Catastrophe and The Cure - (7:56) Very dense thicket of music and drum pounding, telling of some crisis. The sidewalks are cracked, I don't know. It's a different song, but it recalls some of another, "It's Natural." At 1:36, some great drum/guitar build-up, faster, faster. Where we're going, I don't know. But it's intense. 2:19, we go to a peaceful bit, which will probably be shortlived. There's some incredible noodling going on, quick strumming. 3:21, a different musical strain takes over, with guitars washing over us. Then a marching percussion joins for a short time. At 4:30, we've been maybe 10 different places in the song. I'm trying to find a focus, but since this is just my first time hearing it, I'm not doing very well. I like it but not that much. The good news is I seldom like an album the first time through. But this one I probably won't give a second chance to. I like words, too, not just guitars, drums, alternating peace and chaos. 6:15, we're into a strong drum section, getting some exercise there. It's called "Catastrophe and The Cure," so who knows what that's supposed to mean? It's all good, one guesses. 7:21, built up to crescendo, then down to dainty little notes to end it off.

6) So Long, Lonesome - (3:40) - Segues from that into this. Starting off with nice, high guitar notes, then a piano creeps in, two maybe. 1:00, establishing its own tune. A new tune, and a nice one so far, but no extended melody line. (What do I know? Nothing, really). I like the snippets at 2:15, like what came before in the track, but more distinct and identifiable as something. Strong drums at 2:50, with the piano playing a high riff several times. 3:20, we're getting ready to close it out, and it's closing out very very peacefully.

The Frames - The Cost

Track by track, The Frames, "The Cost" album. Overall, a sad sounding album that expresses tons of emotion, finds glimmerings of happiness for seconds at a time, and seems to be full of a lot of pain and brokenness. Basically, you can find your own story here. But cheer up, you're not that bad off.

1) Song for Someone - (5:36) Moody opener, speaking between the lines, hope for a girl who's not there, bursts of intensity about the relationship, then back to the hope that they'll be the same, and she/we will "survive this wave again." There's a good question, about being "born for someone," if we are, and if things can be "in their place." Maybe a little sad about having to wonder about such things. The instruments build in volume and thickness, then back to a guitar before broadening back out, an intense drum that goes nicely with the questioning. There are voices buried in the instruments, not at the front. The violins give it a real moody tone.

2) Falling Slowly - (4:35) The track starts off like it's someone in anguish. A very plaintive vocal begins after that, but by the chorus it's up to full group, with a very emotional falsetto at the end of the lines, on "time" and "now." "Moods that take me and erase me and I'm painted black" gives the overall sense. But the chorus reveals a hope, "Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time." The title refers to going down but not so quickly that he can't be saved. The music tells the story as much as the lyrics, alternately thick and minimal.

3) People Get Ready - (5:28) It opens very plainly, the lyrics very matter-of-fact. "What has gone between us is a lot, is a lot, and who'll get there to clean us if you're not, if you're not." "People all get ready" is because they're tearing down the stand, breaking down, coming to a stop. The instruments build or are added very slowly, and they sound like crying, kind of sad. This is a bitter sounding song. "Who'll be there to ignore us when you're not, when you're not." Then we come to a high point, and here it's loud. It's repeated a few times, "We have all the time in the world to get it right, to get it right." And actually that's pretty optimistic, I mean, who are we trying to impress? Toward the end the track is as thick and dense with music as can be, wall of sound.

4) Rise - (3:26) Here's one that sounds like a breather in a way, with the first word being "Breathing." "The wind is at my side and so are you." That sounds like a place to start from that won't be near as sad. Indeed. "Sometimes we will fall from the light, but it shines on us tonight." Yet, still, this is not going to be a happy happy song, because it sounds like a song for a brief moment. Between crises. The music is equally hesitant to see too much joy in this. They have a nice sound with the violins and all those thick places, making for an outpouring of emotion that meets the singer's observations and closeness to pain. "And together we will rise" is how it ends.

5) Mind's Made Up - (3:44) Guitar interplay, since it's "mind's made up," maybe this means thoughts. "If you want something and you call, call, then I'll come running to fight, and I'll be at your door when there's nothing worth running for." If you make up your mind, don't change it. There's probably a good story behind the song but it's not clear from the listening, so it's a good make-your-own-story song. The music has that kind of bounce, like back at the opening guitars. It gets big with the violins, screaming out really. I can't think of what it reminds me of, like acid violins, sort of the Allman Brothers' guitars on "Ramblin' Man" at the last third of the song. But at the end it dies down quickly and goes back the way it started. Like a term paper.

6) Sad Songs - (3:09) There's "a war that can't won." One of the other songs mentioned warring, too. This sounds like a "single" in certain ways, catchy chorus that's not as intense as some of the other songs, yet it taps into our personal sadness, which would actually sell more than anything too cheerful. The song is staying at one level, not building to anything big. It's a very basic track, no doubt one that could easily worm it's way into your head and you'd be humming it. Still, it's kind of sad.

7) The Cost - (4:20) Here the guitars and drums are heavy, like a forest. The song is about love, the cause of their suffering. But with such loss has been a gain, "so lay your burdens down and stop your crying ... We'll let it burn, burn us down." The heavy vibe spells out the title and words, thinking of cost, very ponderous, like a big lurching mud monster. I like the music on this one. Anyone who's known love knows it's as painful as anything. Hey, this song needed to go on for another couple minutes, really. This is one where I wanted the ponderous instruments to keep chugging it out, then no more words, then a fade.

8) True - (5:14) Here we start just the opposite of "The Cost," with a slight beginning. He's told a lot of lies, and they're like little anchors in his chest that pull us down into this mess. (He sounds like he'd be a hard guy to live with.) He says he'll be gone again. "I find it so hard to be true," with secrets like a blackness in my heart. This minimal, verse part is pretty long. You know it has to build, and here it finally comes, about 2:10 in. "I played the saint, and saint I ain't." (I find that hard to believe.) The build dies down fairly quickly, so that's the chorus. At least he's a guy who seems to be trying. Where's the big part? 3:20, we're into it again, and I don't think we're going back at this point. Yup, with a great added bonus, a sing-song background vocal only half buried. Very very nice, the ending part was.

9) Side You Never Get To See - (3:40) "The side you never get to see is the part I keep from everyone." The vocal on this one sounds both tossed-off and sincere. There's a sweet loping instrumental accompaniment on this one. It tells something, like a swirl of thoughts from a sincere point of view. It sounds like he's saying some of it is "a lie," or maybe it's "alive." Of course there are lots of sides of us that no one gets to see. Even if you're putting it out there, it really is not complete, so maybe that's what it means that it's a lie (I'm not 100% sure about that word, if that's the word.) The big build toward the end has that great instrumental sound, which is kept up in the song. Nice if you like self-examination, good stuff.

10) Bad Bone - (4:42) The vocals are right in your lap. "There's a bad bone inside of me, all my troubles started there." Wow, the songs on this album are very personal, like confessions. Very minimal instruments here, one guitar, and a vocal right on top of you. But then the instruments come in in a subtle way, you can make out each note. "When the anger that you feel turns to poison in your soul, then the scars you only feel will start to show." A little bit about a relationship comes in next, which sounds brutal. "To die with you upon the vine," a depressing thought, or maybe it means something ongoing to the very end. I'd like to think so. At 3:13 we start the build for the big finish. And let's bring everyone back in for another bow!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Rastaman Vibration

This is an album from 1976, one of my favorites, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Rastaman Vibration.

1) Positive Vibration - Such a great album, starting off with this peaceful music and positive song. The I Threes are there as beautiful background singers. And Bob Marley, "If you get down and you quarrel everyday, you're saying prayers to the devils, I say, oh oh." The alternative is to help one another on the way and make things much easier. Why live in a negative way? "Make way for the positive day." There's a bell or ting going in this song along with the good reggae music. "Jah love, protect us." Back to the main verse. "I and I vibration, positive."

2) Roots, Rock, Reggae - Opens with drums, then the organ and piano. "Play I some music, this a reggae music. Roots, rock, reggae!" Bob calls to Mr. Music, that he sure sounds good. "What to be got to be. Feel like dancin', come dance with me." It's a good celebration of music, with some interesting percussion, like little cloc-cloc's. "We're bubbling on the top 100, just like a mighty dread." There's a horn blowing mid-song, and a guitar that answers Bob. The music is so clean and precise.

3) Johnny Was - Background voices need the beginning make it sound like a serious song, which it is. "Woman hold her head and cry, 'cause her son had been shot down in the street and died, from a stray bullet." Johnny was her son. A passerby passes by and sees her cry. A question, "How can she work it out?" The wages of sin is death, gift of Jah is life. "Johnny was a good man, good, good, good, good, good, good man, she cried." He was shot just because of the system, so this is a matter of injustice. "Comforting her, I was passing by. She complained, then she cried." She still wants the child she bears.

4) Cry to Me - "Cry to me, now." This is a list song. "Walk back through the pain, shed those lonely teardrops." It's what you need to go through. The music is cool, almost like sound effects in the background as much as accompaniment, especially with earbuds. They're back there like, 'Don't let us get in your way,' yet everything is perfectly in sync. There's some nice interplay with the I Threes and Bob.

5) Want More - "Do you want more?" The music is with some slick drums and effects, and the unmistakable sound of the group. It all sounds so effortless. "In the valley of decision," a biblical phrase, I believe. "But Jah have them in the region in the valley of decision. Go down, backbiter." Hot instrumental break, with electric guitar. Then Bob returns with the singers. I'm not sure what the song is about. Must be about divine vengeance against enemies. That makes some sense with the religious imagery. That phrase was from the Bible, Joel 3:14: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision."

6) Crazy Baldhead - "Them crazy, them crazy, we gonna chase them crazy baldheads out of town." This song has something to do with outside forces coming in, profiteers, exploiters of some sort, enslavers, conquerors. But I don't know what the baldhead stuff's about. Don't Jamaicans lose their hair? It sounds almost like a Jamaican folk song. "Chase those crazy bump heads, out of the YOWN." I like that playing with the lyrics. More great sound effects, like a tiny WHEEEE and cloc-clocs and WHIRRR. "Here comes the con man."

7) Who the Cap Fit - They're all message songs, but this is a message song explicitly. "Man to man is so unjust." "Who the cap fit, let them wear it." The middle bit has some coo coo and cluck cluck. "Who Jah bless, no one curse." Lifting up the people to have wisdom and trust in divine guiding. Understand life and the ways of man: "Who the cap fit," those are the ones I'm talking about. Like if the shoe fits, wear it.

8) Night Shift - The bass opening is a nice instrumental opening. More Bible quotes, from Psalm 121. "The sun shall not smite I by day, nor the moon by night." A guy's working all night and it's all right, working on the forklift in the night shift." There's some killer background interplay on this one, the I Threes. "By the sweat of my brow, eat your bread." All night and all right! Going on in your life doing it.

9) War - This is from a speech by Haile Selassie. "Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war." And it builds from there, to class distinctions. And till the color of your skin is of no significance. And until basic human rights are guaranteed to all. There's war until that day. A song about the fact of rising up and conflict. Bob has great pronunciation of "sub-human bondage" and "utterly DEstroyed." There's some good bubbling music in there and building horn answers to some of the pronouncements. Positive ending: "Good over evil."

10) Rat Race - "Uhhh! You're too rude!" The song considers the whole "rat race," with some other races, dog, horse, human race. "Political violence fill your city, yeah." "Rasta don't work for no CIA." "When you think it's peace and safety, a sudden destruction." (1 Thessalonians 5:3 - "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.") It really is a disgrace to see the human race in a rat race. Rat races are for rats. The song is a good consideration of the same old grind, a bunch of problems that are there for everyone, all of us running about.