Spread A Little Happiness

It’s been a good weekend on the whole even if the Trip Adviser lying morons have snuck out of the word work… waited an hour my foot, how can you arrived after kick of the Man U game and received your food before the end of the first half??? Clearly these people are incapable of reading as our menu is written out very clearly to make it idiot proof. G’ahhh…. just proves that you make something idiot proof and some creates a better class of idiot. On the plus side we got rave reviews on Friday so lying girl you can blow it out your ass. Anyway, I’ve got Zappa’s Sheik Yerbouti on the player so all is good with the world for now.

I’ve seen a few films both at home and at the cinema in the last week. As we are getting our bathroom redone I had an extra free morning on Tuesday and after seeing that morning television is a big pile of Poo I went to my DVD collection and picked out a film I haven’t seen since the flight home from my second Margarita holiday. The film was the X Files: I Want to Believe which was released in 2008 and was somewhat unhappily received and many people were disappointed by it, myself included. But watching it a few years later I have revised my opinion somewhat. I think what probably let people down was that it wasn’t continuing the whole alien conspiracy storyline which had been started in the series. This was more a standalone adventure and focusses more on character. Being the X Files of course there is the paranormal aspect which in this occasion involves a psychic paedophile priest played by Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connelly and a Frankenstein-esque plot involving a guy trying to build a perfect healthy body for his dying partner (no really). Looking back at it without the expectation of before and accepting the film on its own merits it isn’t bad at all. In many ways it shows the characters maturing and becoming fuller characters. The sign of Mulder coming out of his funk is visually sign posted when he shaves his beard off and begins to take an active interest in the case and puts his contempt towards the FBI to one side. H becomes a fully rounded figure wanting to save the life of the agent, even if in doing so he is trying to prove the truth of the paranormal. Scully is shown to actually dedicating her life to the science she trained in and the film illustrates the difficulties a practicing doctor must tackle and the emotional consequences. It is a more complex film then first imagined is definitely worth a second appraisal. The evening before I rewatched Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me which is a prequel and in part sequel to the TV series… it still doesn’t really make a lot of sense for part of the film but the Laura Palmer segment works well. Ultimately it poses more questions then it answers (such as is the killer possessed by Bob when he kills Teresa Banks and is it Bob possessing the killer when abusing Laura Palmer or is it the killer on his own. This isn’t made clear, nor is the presence of the boy in the faceless long nosed mask… though I wonder if that is representing the killer’s body under the control of Bob). The cameo by David Bowie is odd, even by David Lynch standards but it may well have a element had they done further Twin Peaks movies. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is very much a film of two halves and the bizarre film is not helped by some weird items of the DVD copy I have (a David Lynch Boxset), notably the complete lack of subtitles in the scenes in the lodge, inaudible dialogue in the night club scene and the sequence where the once armed man runs Leland and Laura off the road. What connects both of those two films is there somewhat lacklustre response on original release. I think both of them suffer from not being what was expecting, Fire Walk with Me in particular lacks many of the characters who populated the TV series and the affable Dale Cooper interacts very scarcely with the narrative. Another notably difference is the characterisation of the Man from Another Place who is much more on the side of good in the series but in Fire Walk with Me he seems to be a much more sinister character who manipulates Bob into absorbing the Garzonbola from people. Perhaps the idea is that he learns more about humanity this way which is why he sends clues to Cooper in dream form. Mind you I could spend years deconstructing Twin Peaks and still not get anywhere in explaining it, perhaps that is the point.

Cinema wise my film choice was Focus starring the fresh Prince of Bel-Air aka Will Smith (you can tell I grew up in the 90’s lol) which is a film about a conman with a past. In essence it is a film consisting of two episodes of Hustle (very much so as there are distinct two parts to the film) but that is by no means a criticism. The ending is a little telegraphed but in the way a good plot is written, the twist should be obvious, but only obvious once it has been revealed. The thing is suggestion and slight of hand are the nature of the plot, something highlighted in the New Orleans section where clever editing and set up lead us to believe that Will Smith’s Character has a serious gambling problem with constant betting against a Japanese opponent. This sequence features very clever use of music in the form of the Rolling Stones classic Sympathy for the Devil which at first we believe is the soundtrack illustrating Will Smith’s temptation and at the denouement we discover it is actually in the room and part of the plan. As with all major Hollywood picture there is the icky romance sub plot, which does affect the plot a bit but still feels annoyingly twee.

I saw it in the IMAX screen which is something I shall avoid for future films as A. It costs more. B. It didn’t really add to this film… though something like the Hobbit would be different and C. The film packed up three quarters in and had to be reset.

I’ve finished with Zappa and I have changed over to a totally contrasting artist; the legendary Blues singer Etta James and Life, Love and the Blues album. This is a very good album which kicks off with a funky take on “Born Under A Bad Sign” and also features a gender adjusted version of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”.
This leads me to my musical endeavours, I went to two gigs at the Harp the first of which was Arthur Brown’s Jazz Buddies. A band you could describe as a sort of Trad Jazz super group with Matt Palmer and that trombone player whose name I can’t recall, so as such it was very good as you might expect. As which does happen occasionally the band decided to split the evening into three sets with two fifteen minute breaks as opposed to the usual two sets and a thirty minute break, which made for a more flowing evening with the first set being a more slow blues affair and the second being a more upbeat series of number and the third being a mix of both. I arrived as the band were finishing a number, the name of which I didn’t catch. I got myself a nice pint of Wye Valley’s Hereford Pale Ale and found a good space to stand as it was standing room only, the band set off with a Hoagy Carmichael number called “Riverboat Shuffle” which name checks Tenor Sax legend Coleman Hawkins in the (unsung on this occasion) lyrics; this number has been covered many times, most famously by Bix Beiderbecke but I have another useless piece of information about it. The song is a number Hoagy had written before called “Washboard Blues” but for reasons I don’t know he rewrote it and it became the superior and much more upbeat “Riverboat Shuffle”. This was followed by a downbeat number called “the Curse of an Aching Heart” and a rather chirpy up beat blues called “Beale Street Blues”, this in particular has a very easy and catchy melody to it and the lyrics are quite fun too. More Blues followed with a song which was originally a British folk song about a particular London hospital and has been taken up on the Jazz and Blues seen pretty much from their inception, the number is of course the “St. James Infirmary Blues”. This started off with a length but excellent guitar intro, which in turn was followed by a lengthy vocal intro before reaching the famous verses and choruses. I enjoy it when bands do this as it adds a new dimension to numbers you think you know, the late great George Melly did something similar on tour by singing the usually unsung verses of songs or adding the often skipped intros. If you check out the George Melly with Mick Mulligan and John Chilton Pye Jazz Anthology there are several tracks demonstrating this… but because I’m an evil bastard I won’t tell you which tracks. Don’t look at me like that, if I told you it would ruin the joy of listening to them first time. The band went into Louis Armstrong territory with “Muskrat Ramble” and the set closed with the JC90 staple tune “Panama Rag”.
The second set opened with what I think was called “Wail Street Brigade” which is not a tune I am familiar with at all as was the next number, “He Who Speaks.” The next number I knew very well as the Jack Teagarden recording of it is one of my favourites, the tune was W.C. Handy’s Aunt Hager’s Blues and the band paid good service to both Mr T from Texas and W.C. Handy. Another new tune (to me) was struck up next and it was called “What They Do in Egypt on a Thursday Night” which is a rather unusual title I can tell you. I didn’t really hear this one as I nipped to the loo and ran into Tom from who was out celebrating his birthday with his son Ross, so I bought him a birthday drink. The music continued its Arabic theme with Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” which no doubt is a little more in the public’s consciousness due to its inclusion in the movie Whiplash, this number feature Matt Palmer on Soprano Sax and featured a massive set piece for the drummer. This was quite a long performance (and I may have missed a number while talking to Tom) and as such this lead into the second break.
Set Three kicked off with one my favourite ballads which is “Louisianan Fairy Tale”, which is a soft laid back piece with an almost lullaby quality to it. Things got upbeat again with the “Everybody Loves My Baby” and a number called “Jeep’s Blues” named after the Ellingtonian Alto player Johnny Hodges. Now what struck me about this tune was that it sounded rather familiar and I don’t mean because I have it on record. No I mean the melody itself, which curiously sounds like a Wingy Manone track from the 1930 called Tar Paper Stomp, which features a very familiar riff which was utilised by Horace Henderson in his composition “Hot & Anxious”, which in turn was used as a basis for a very famous swing tune. Here is the Wingy Manone track… see if you can figure it out.

There was a pause here for the raffle and football card, neither of which I won (I give the wine back anyway) and the evening closed with a number called “Buddy’s Habit”, no not a tribute to Buddy Rich but a number about a monk called Buddy. Yup, that title is a terrible pun. All in all it was an excellent evening of Jazz and beer.

The next gig was Matt Palmer’s Aces of Rhythm which were very good but I was not really in the mood for it so I let most of it drift by, though I remember they played “Singing the Blues” and a Clarence Williams composition which wasn’t “Cake Walkin’ Babies From Home”.

Well I have switched over to Art Blakey now and his album Indestructible, an album I purchased in 2003 and I have listened to so many times it is still in the cellophane. Ah so many albums so little time…

And Finally
I thought once I was sailing on an ocean made entirely of fizzy orange but was disappointed that I woke up. It seems it was just a Fanta Sea

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