Tuesday, October 27, 2009


1) You know the drill: A pointless Larry King quote, another Random Thoughts post. And if you don't know the drill, you must be new here. Welcome! And also, how the hell did you get here? It's not like I've been doing anything to increase traffic around these parts. Are you sure you're in the right place? Would you like something to eat? I've got some potato chip crumbs around here somewhere...

2) Hey, anybody remember the bright, shiny promise of Obama's presidency? How it was going to be so, you know, different and all? How he was going to close Gitmo, get us the hell out of Iraq and by God make sure the health care system in this country was overhauled?

Yeah. I'm sorry, but fuzzy words and half-hearted efforts really won't cut it. Particularly galling is his pitiful efforts to make some sort of dent in the insurance industry's death grip on American health care. He waffled on support for a public option--presumably he was checking to see what way the wind blew--and let a band of right-wing lunatics set the terms of the debate. At no point did he lead forcefully, or even act like he particularly gave a rat's ass. With the economy still tanking and more and more people realizing the limits of their insurance coverage, there has never been a better time to pass real, significant reform. And Obama is just kind of letting the moment pass.

Not that any of this is unexpected, but still...sad.

3) Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man has yet to open in my personal neck of the woods, and I'm still waiting. It's easily one of my most anticipated films of the year, and yet, I don't necessarily expect it to be my favorite. Last year's offering from the Coens, Burn After Reading, was one of the year's best, but almost by default: How much competition did it have, really? Movie-wise, pickins have been mighty slim lately.

But this year...holy crap! Just off the top of my head, Coraline, Up, In The Loop, Moon, Inglourious Basterds, Ponyo, Lorna's Silence, The Informant! and Where The Wild Things Are--a fine list by any standards. Quite honestly, A Serious Man would have a long way to go to match any of those.

Then again, with the Coens, I've learned never to trust my initial reaction. It took me three viewings to finally appreciate The Big Lebowski.

4) Rapacious, money-grubbing rock manager Dee Anthony has died at the age of 83. Every single obit IDs him as the guy who broke Peter Frampton in the United States, but presumably not wishing to speak ill of the dead, they tiptoe around what he actually did to Frampton's career.

Yes, the record-breaking success of Frampton Comes Alive was engineered by Anthony, but that very success led him to view Frampton as he viewed all the artists in his stable: as commodities. Anthony didn't care about Frampton as an artist or human being, he only cared about how much money his pretty boy Trilby could generate. So there was a rushed follow-up to Frampton Comes Alive, the laughable I'm In You, an album so dismal Frampton himself hated it. (It did, however, inspire the title of Frank Zappa's I Have Been In You, so there's that.)

Even more notoriously, Anthony teamed up with another noted seventies schlockmeister, Robert Stigwood, and together they teamed their biggest clients, Frampton and The Bee Gees, in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a movie so bad I'm surprised I haven't spent more time writing about it here. More than just a terrible, terrible piece of celluloid, it was also a notorious flop, damaging the careers of pretty much everyone involved with it: Director Michael Schultz would never again get an A-list gig, Stigwood never achieved the moguldom he clearly desired, the Bee Gees' incredible Saturday Night Fever success was revealed as a mere fluke.

But the worst fallout came down on Frampton. He was never more than a journeyman rocker, but the massive, and somewhat questionably achieved, success of Frampton Comes Alive made him suspect in the eyes of most critics, and with his commercial prospects crumbling, he had no support system. Anthony put him back on the road, playing to smaller and smaller crowds, a former Sun God revealed as nothing more than a man. And when money stopped rolling in, Anthony dumped Frampton without a second thought, having used him for all he could get.

But none of the obits quite explain all that.

5) I meant to post this yesterday, but this was my actual reaction to the Yankees heading for the World Series:

Sadly, this is pretty much my reaction to any good news.

6) Finally, the cats: Monika's been an ongoing source of concern lately. She's sixteen, and had been going strong, but all of a sudden she became scrawny, slow-moving and very, very frail, as if finally showing her age. She has, at this point, lived longer than any cat I've ever known, so I prepared myself for the inevitable, as she just kind of sat around and looked out of it.

Delmar apparently sensed that, too, since he's been strutting around like King Shit, acting about as assertive as a furry little bundle of neuroses possibly can. He's been downright confident lately, secure about his place in the world.

Well, watch out, Del: Instant Karma's gonna get you. As he walked through the living room this morning, Monika, perched on a chair, reached down and bitch-slapped him. He looked from side to side, as if he couldn't figure out what just happened. Monika hopped down from the chair, sat in front of him and just stared. Del backed away slowly at first, then beat a hasty retreat to the kitchen.

So, in other words, it's business as usual around here.