Ramblin' man: Five for Friday
...Two weeks of this stay-at-home dad routine and frankly I feel a bit like my adult brain is dissolving into something the consistency of the oatmeal with brown sugar Peter so loves to eat... Play-Doh, Bob Builder, motorbikes and big trucks, building blanket houses and occasional time-outs, these are the things I know of now.
In any event, to post something, I shall be lazy and steal entirely from Lefty (mentioned twice in two posts! but he did declare me his #6 musical guru after all) to post my Top Ten of the Week, things I have seen/done/heard this week I do like. Except I'll only do five because I'm half-assed in that fashion.
1. Tom Waits, "Orphans" CD Box set. Wow, this is the mother lode, 54 songs, three CDs of Waits-ian roar, rattle and hoot distilled into distinctive albums – "Brawlers," "Bawlers" and "Bastards," each catering to a unique side of Waits' sound. It's an utterly gorgeous looking set, combining rarities and covers with a whole moose-load of new tunes. Anyone who's a fan of Waits' weird world should grab this. I'm just barely digging in to it, but so far the blown-engine stomps of "Brawlers" are particularly fine soundtracks for your own personal emotionally shattered 3 a.m. car journey. Or as Waits himself puts it, "What’s Orphans? I don’t know. Orphans is a dead-end kid driving a coffin with big tires across the Ohio River wearing welding goggles and a wifebeater with a lit firecracker in his ear." Awesome.
2. Borat: "Very niiiiice." Yep, Sacha Baron Cohen's pseudo-documentarian romp finally opened in New Zealand last week and I got to check it out and pretty much loved it, like I figured I would. (The image of one unseemly scene is forever seared on my retinas, though - you know which one I mean if you've seen it. Wrestling. Brrr.) Classic comedy by a man who might well be the new Peter Sellers. The character of Borat's an amazing piece of acting when you think about it, and the movie's the kind of comedy that makes you cringe a little bit while you laugh your head off.
3. The Who, "Live At Leeds" CD. Inspired by viewing the balls-out awesome rock documentary "The Kids Are Alright" on the tube the other week, I've gotten truly into the gods of Mod rock lately and am filling out the holes in my CD collection by them. This album is a fantastic souvenir of The Who at their early '70s peak, pounding along through an immense set-list full of interesting twists and turns (a highlight being a clattering 15-minute take on "My Generation"!). The sound on the disc I got is fantastically clear – you can practically hear the sweat fly off Keith Moon's drumsticks, and Entwistle's bass thrums with a beefy brawn. Glad I've finally hepped in to what has to be one of the best live albums I own.
4. Peepshow #14. Poor sad bastard Joe Matt has finally released a new issue of his autobiographical comic book, after something like a five-year hiatus... which, if you believe his story this issue, he's basically spent, um, shaking hands with little Elvis, if you get my grip. As indulgent and navel-gazing as a comic can get, this long-delayed issue is still pretty fascinating. Matt almost deconstructs the now-tired genre of autobio comics, trying to break out of his cycle of porn, lust and apathy. His cartooning remains fluid and expressive, even if his character barely leaves his room this issue. It ain't a purty read, but it's a highly interesting one if only to see how low you can go – I only hope Matt's next work has a little more light and hope in it, since in his "real" life he's apparently gone on to break out of his Toronto rut and move to California.
5. Re-reading one of my favorite novel series, Patricia Highsmith's "Ripley" stories, starting with "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and on through the next four books. Highsmith does an amazing job showing the birth and life of Tom Ripley, an amoral, but extremely civilized, psychopath, a kind of non-cannibal Hannibal Lecter who never gets caught. Highsmith's cool, controlled and nonjudgmental prose makes these suspense novels bite with a literary kick. Re-reading the first novel is particularly interesting to see young, confused Tom Ripley murder his way to something resembling happiness as he discovers who he really is. In the later books, an older Tom develops into a cruel and psychotic mystery of a man. The "Ripley" books are still chilling nearly 40 years after they were written. Check 'em out if you like smart suspense that's a few notches up from Tom Clancy or Dean Koontz.