Delenda Est Carthago
Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!
- Name: Greg
- Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States
I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!
What I've been reading
This is a strange book. It begins like you might expect a book by the author of Dracula to begin, but then goes in a wildly different direction. It's not a bad book, but Stoker does try to add some elements that don't seem to make much sense. It's weird.
Even the back of the book adds to the confusion. In my edition, the back copy speaks of Archie Hunter (the narrator) arriving in Aberdeenshire for an annual holiday. He sees a vision of a couple carrying a coffin, and learns shortly afterward that their child has died. He sees a man drown, and a weird old lady, Gormala, tells him that he has the Second Sight. The man, of course, later drowns. The text on the back asks, "Where are these terrible visions, whose force he seems unable to counter, taking him?" To sum up, it reads, "First published in 1902, this story, in which the dead come back to haunt the living, was one of Stoker's most successful after Dracula." From this description, you'd be expecting a creepy, eerie horror story, right? Right?!?!?
Well, that's not what this book is like at all. Early on, it seems to be that way. Hunter arrives at Cruden Bay on the east coast of Scotland, meets the strange woman Gormala, who tells him of the Second Sight and how he can see the horrible fate of people, and then, one night, he sees ghosts rise out of the North Sea and walk along the beach. One of the ghosts, a Spaniard, leads him to an area near his house before disappearing. Later Hunter buys a chest of drawers with some encrypted papers on them. Could it be the Mystery of the Sea?
So far, this has been a pretty interesting story, full of creepiness and mounting horror. Stoker provides wonderful descriptions of the wind-swept coast and the environs, giving a sense of the isolation of the population and how that might lead to, well, madness, which it seems to have in Gormala. Not that she doesn't have the Sight, but she's a bit nutty as well. The march of the ghosts is weird and eerie, and Stoker does a nice job, as many writers used to do, of building tension without indulging in shock tactics. He did this nicely in Dracula, and he does it nicely here.
Suddenly, about 40 pages in, the book's tone shifts, and we get the real story. The encrypted papers in the chest deal with a fabulous treasure, one that was entrusted to a Spaniard (the same one who Hunter saw as a ghost) by the Pope during the days of the Spanish Armada. When that expedition turned out to be ill-fated, the Spaniard buried it in Scotland - near where Hunter lives now - and hoped that he could return at some point to reclaim it. The papers tell where he buried it. Hunter also meets Marjory Drake, a young lady from Chicago, who happens to be a great heiress. Not only that, she provided the United States Navy with its first battleship. Hunter knows none of this until he falls head over heels for Marjory, but once he finds out, the book turns into a spy thriller and leaves horror behind. It's a weird move, because it's somewhat unexpected.
That's not to say the book is ruined. The thriller part of the book is perfectly fine. The story takes place during the Spanish-American War, and Marjory expresses her hatred for the Spanish many times. A descendant of the original Spaniard, Don Bernardino, shows up, and he and our heroes engage in some biting repartee before Bernardino, ever the honorable gentleman, becomes Hunter's ally late in the book. Hunter deciphers the code and he and Marjory find the treasure, in adventurous fashion. Spanish agents are conspiring to kidnap Marjory and hold her for ransom, something the American government does not want. The kidnappers succeed, of course, and Hunter must find her before it's too late! It's all very exciting.
Stoker does a nice job blending in the events that were happening at the time with the narrative. Of course, we're all supposed to know what's happening between the U. S. and Spain, but even if we don't, he does a decent job at least providing some background. The "action" scenes - so to speak - are handled well, too. When Hunter and Marjory descend into the cave to seek the treasure, we get a good sense of them being underground, where a cave-in could kill them easily. When Marjory is kidnapped, Stoker does a good job with the principals searching her out, leading to a big confrontation on a ship. Stoker never actually forgets that Hunter has the Sight, as he uses it occasionally throughout, but after the importance placed upon it in the early going, when he does mention it again, or when Gormala shows up occasionally (as she does), it's kind of weird to read about it, because we're caught up in this treasure hunt. The two different threads of the book - Hunter's "abilities" and how he copes with them, and the treasure hunt/kidnap plot - never really reconcile, but Stoker doesn't try too hard to keep up with how Hunter is able to do all these things. The supernatural aspect of the book doesn't interfere too much with the main plot.
For a book published a little over a hundred years ago, Stoker's attitudes are somewhat surprising. Toward the end, a black man from New Orleans shows up, and there are a lot of racist descriptions of him (he is a villain, to be fair, but he's the only one to be explained as a villain because he's black). Don Bernardino, the Spaniard, also comes off poorly, as Hunter often speculates about how his "blood" has determined how he's acting. Stoker does redeem him a bit at the end, when he acts nobly, but for much of the book, it's uncomfortable reading about him. With Marjory, Stoker does a better job. There is a section in the book where Mrs. Jack, Marjory's nurse and friend, speaks to her about the duties of a wife (she has married Hunter by this time), and it's as pre-feminist as you might expect, and Marjory bows down to Mrs. Jack's infinite wisdom. (I read some of it to Krys, who's as uppity as they come. Mrs. Jack begins: "Marjory, my dear one, when a woman takes a husband she gives up herself. It is right that she should; and it is better too, for us women. How can we look after our mankind, if we're thinking of ourselves all the time!" She goes on for a while, and then says, "But a woman only learns true happiness when she gives up all her own wishes, and thinks only of her husband." That Mrs. Jack - she knows the score!) However, for most of the book, Marjory is an equal partner with Hunter, and they form a nice partnership in searching for the treasure. Yes, Stoker makes sure we know that Marjory is a weak little woman, but for the most part, her portrayal is handled very well. When she is kidnapped, she leaves clues for the rescuers, who remark on how surprising it is that an addled woman would do that. Hunter, for his part, sticks up for her. Marjory's character is very interesting, because Stoker apparently does this often. Witness Mina Harker in Dracula, who is also a strong female character.
There's a lot to like about The Mystery of the Sea. It's a good thriller, and it draws us into the politics of the period, as well as providing some excitement and creepiness. Stoker can be overwrought with his prose, as many writers of the age could be, but the book does sail along relatively well. If you're sick of political thrillers with no meat on them, you might want to check this out, because it has a lot packed into it.
Picture Day goes Caribbean!
We flew into Grenada (after some excitement at the airport in Miami, where we almost missed our connecting flight and had to run through the terminal) on the 7th and spent the night on board the ship. The next day we took a brief tour of the island. Then we were off! So these pictures are from that first day, 8 August 1999. We'll get to the rest of the vacation over the next few weeks.
You know, for the first photo of a vacation, this is rather unimpressive. I just liked the fact that it's a "banana reception depot."
Ah, here we go! This is St. George's, Grenada, the capital "city." (Yes, it's actually in the possessive, which is a bit odd.) It's a nice town, somewhat British (not surprising), and laid back in that Caribbean way. We didn't spend much time there.
There were, of course, many waterfalls throughout the island. We stopped at one of them, and Krys posed for a picture in front of it!
We drove to the top of the central mountain, which is a caldera of an "extinct" volcano. We hung out there for a while, and Krys took my picture. I'm wearing my Church of Elvis T-shirt (the Church of Elvis, unfortunately, no longer exists in the physical world - at least I don't think it does - but you can still get stuff on-line!) and my Everett AquaSox baseball cap, which my friend Ken gave me as a present one year. My AquaSox cap is awesome (check the link to see the logo, which is one of those weird-ass frogs with suction pads on their feet).
That day we set sail, and this is our last look at Grenada.
Grenada is an interesting place. It has that Caribbean vibe you get down there, with high humidity, winding and not particularly well-maintained road, small stores perched on the side of the road with precipitous cliffs behind it, people wandering around and into the path of vehicles with no regard to their own safety. It's famous in this country, of course, because we invaded it back in the 1980s. There's still a lot of anti-American graffiti about, as well as pro-Cuban stuff. But mostly it's been whitewashed away, replaced by pro-American graffiti. It's interesting seeing the politics of the island emblazoned in spray paint on the side of houses high in the hills. I don't know much more about Grenada because we spent less than a day there.
Next week we'll head out into open sea! Oh, the crazy pictures I took!
Great songs, according to me (Part 27)
Of course, I must link to the archives, in case you missed any of my rambling:
Parts 1-15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, and Part 26. Just so you know.
261. I Shatter (by Magnetic Fields on the album 69 Love Songs (vol. 2), 1999): This is the final song on the second of the three albums that make up 69 Love Songs, and it's a weird tune, but very creepily cool. Stephen Merritt, the bizarre creative genius behind the band, sings the tune in a deep, growly bass, and in only a few minutes, establishes a mood that sinks into you and leaves you very disturbed (a good thing in this case). The best line of the song is the little chorus: "You called me mad (and I am mad [which is sung in a higher, choral voice]) as a hatter, some fall in love ... I shatter." Just brilliant.
262. I Want Your (Hands On Me) (by Sinéad O'Connor on the album The Lion and the Cobra, 1987): Sinéad O'Connor has always had a funky streak, even though a lot of her music doesn't show it. This song, from her first album, isn't exactly funky, but it does have a good hard dance beat, and O'Connor's nasty "fuck me" lyrics show off her wild side. The repetition of "Put 'em on, put 'em on, put 'em on me" is linked to the repetition of sex, and toward the end, when she emits a combination snarl/yell, we get the whole sense of sex - pleasurable, but brutal. One of the highlights of an excellent album.
263. I Would For You (by Jane's Addiction on the album Jane's Addiction, 1987): The first album by Jane's Addiction is a live one, and although some songs aren't great, it has some classics, including this plaintive long song, aided immeasurably by Farrell's keening vocals. There's very little music to the song, just a simple bass line, and that allows Perry to use his voice as an instrument, starting softly with "I'm everybody's slave, I made you my slave" and growing to a wail at the song's climax: "And if you wonder what I would do, I would do anything if I could ... you know I would ..." The lyrics are simple, like the music, but the haunting, echoing nature of the vocals coupled with the thud of the bass makes this a great, painfully raw song.
264. Ice Cream Man (by Van Halen on the album Van Halen, 1978): "Ice Cream Man" is a cover, but Van Halen does cover songs really well, and Dave's lascivious vocals raise this up, as does Eddie's joyful guitar. When Dave starts off with "Summertime's here, babe, need somethin' to keep you cool ..." with that sleazy sex-addict voice of his, you know you're in for three minutes of groovy music, and when he laconically tells the boys to join him (which is when the "rock" music kicks in), it sounds like he's inviting them to an orgy. Leading, of course, to the inevitable slow-down at the end, when all the ice cream has been, presumably, licked off many naked ladies. Van Halen makes cock-rock sound weirdly innocent, and this song is a prime example of it.
265. I'd Die Without You (by P.M. Dawn on The Bliss Album ...?, 1993): P.M. Dawn's finest album ends with perhaps their best song, a beautiful love song about not realizing what you had until it's gone. Yes, it's a theme that has been tapped for decades in song, but that doesn't make it invalid! Here, Prince Be's lyrics over the lush music are so heartfelt that we believe he's dying inside, which is all we ever want out of one of these kinds of songs. As usual with the group, the lyrics are wonderful, too: "Is it my turn to hold your hands, tell you I love you and you not hear me?" Yes, maybe these stupid men who sing these songs should have been smarter the first time around. But then we wouldn't get such nice songs out of them!
266. Idiot Stare (by Jesus Jones on the album Perverse, 1993): Most people, if they own a Jesus Jones album, own Doubt and no others. That's a shame, because they have made some good music on other albums, and this song, which came on their follow-up, is a good example. It's another album-ender, and kicks in with a swirling techno beat and a dizzying hard edge to it, and Mike Edwards sings, almost softly at first, but gradually ramping up until he's emitting a primal scream in the chorus: "I don't know if I care, I can't feel, I can't speak, I can't think caught in an idiot stare." It's a nice "fuck-you" shout-out to the crazed culture we've created - which, of course, Jesus Jones is participating in. Oh, the irony!
267. Idol (by Amanda Ghost on the album Ghost Stories, 2000): This is a strange (but great) song in which our little Amanda pleads for, well, an idol. It's a lost little girl kind of song, helped by Ghost's unusual voice, which sounds a tiny bit lispy. When she gets to the chorus, the power in her voice becomes the song's strength, as her plea becomes more urgent, as if her need for someone to worship is consuming her. Like I said, a strange song, but very haunting and gut-wrenching.
268. If I Was Your Girlfriend (by Prince on the album Sign O' The Times, 1987): The first gender-bending song on this list is Prince's weird boppy song from what many people consider his greatest album (not me, but it's close). Prince switches roles to show that he, as a man, can be as sensitive to a woman's needs as a woman can, and sings about situations where he could help his lady out more. Or maybe he just has lesbian fantasies. The best part of the song is toward the end, when The Purple One starts ranting like he's sucked too much helium and the pace of the lyrics gets faster and faster (even though the music doesn't) and then, post-orgasm, Prince contemplates "what silence looks like." It's a wacky but interesting song, and Prince is just crazy enough to pull it off.
269. If I Was Your Man (by Joan Osborne on the album Righteous Love, 2000): Speaking of switching gender roles, here's Joan Osborne imagining herself as a man. Osborne has a marvelous voice, and she uses it to full effect in this song, singing as if she's sweating somewhere on the bayou, lazily winding her way through the song while the music adds to the eerie sensation of the scene. Suddenly, halfway through, she switches to a more urgent tone, and we get the meat of the song: "3:30 in the morning is to easy for you, but when it comes without a warning what are you gonna do this time?" It's a strange song about obsession and desire, but Osborne's subtly nasty voice sells it.
270. If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill (by Marillion on the album Anoraknophobia, 2001): Yes, it's another Marillion song. They have a new album coming out in April, so I'm ridiculously excited at the chance to add even more great songs to this list!!!! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Anyway, this is the final song of their 2001 release, and it begins with a big crunch of guitars and keyboards, with Hogarth practically shouting the lyrics. Only when they've blasted us for a bit does the song slow down, allowing Hogarth to paint a nightmare picture of love - not exactly an unpleasant one, but one in which you're not in control, which is what love kind of is, after all. The final chanting of words that gradually pile into something coherent is wonderful, and it becomes a triumphant song about love's power. How sweet. Man, I'm excited about the new album.
So that's another 10 songs on my list of great ones. I'll finish this yet! Agree? Disagree? Never heard of any of them? Let me know!
The Women of Jerry, Part 1
Of course, none of this would be possible without a Seinfeld episode guide or the trusty Internet Movie Database. The Internet sure is handy!
Our first Seinfeld lady is Pamela Brüll. Who? She was in the pilot episode, which aired on 5 July 1989. She played Laura, who flies into New York and asks to stay with Jerry. He's not sure if she wants to take it up a notch, and then he learns that she's engaged, solving that problem. This is a kind of lame episode, giving no indication of the greatness to come, and Ms. Brüll is part of that problem. She's not unattractive, but she's not terribly glamorous either. She hadn't really done anything noteworthy before she appeared on Seinfeld, and she hasn't done anything since. Her last appearance on the IMDb page is in 1997. Fare thee well, Ms. Brüll!
I wanted to compare Jerry's age to the women he dates, but as I can't find Ms. Brüll's birthdate anywhere, that won't happen now. Look for it our next installment.
So that's Woman of Jerry #1. Rather unimpressive. I can't even find a picture. Let's give her a fame rating of 1 out of 10, simply because she's in the pilot episode of one of the great sitcoms of all time. Other than that, she could be doing dinner theater in Des Moines.
Picture Day takes a cruise on the river
This is one of my many dream houses. Holy crap, look at that thing. On the west side of the river, south of town toward Lake Oswego, sat many gorgeous houses like this that you couldn't see from the road above. I had to deliver a fruit basket to one of them once, a house owned by one of the Trail Blazers. Nice place. This place is stunning. The bottom part of the structure used to be a boat garage, and the owners turned it into an indoor swimming pool. Man, that's a cool house.
The boat took us south to Oregon City, where there are waterfalls. So we turned back.
I like this picture. It looks like I'm on CNN or something, reporting on the water behind me.
Another beautiful home along the river. I know I shouldn't covet my neighbor's stuff (even though this person isn't my neighbor) and I know I should be happy with non-material things, but like "Weird Al" Yankovic once sang: "If money can't buy happiness, I guess I'll have to rent it." I could live here for a little while, couldn't I?
It's tough getting good shots of downtown from the east unless you're on the water. I was, so I did.
A few days later we went to the Oregon Brewers' Festival, which is one of the most fun events in Portland each year. Brewers come from all over the country to give people a taste. We went almost every year, even though it's packed, especially with annoying frat boys who get hammered early and then chant nonsensical things under the big tent. It's still fun, and the beer is very good. It was at the Brewfest that I drank the best beer EVER, Wisconsin Belgian Red. It tastes like Dr. Pepper. Good gravy, is it good. Even Krys liked it, and she doesn't really like Dr. Pepper. We actually got a bottle of it once, but it's not as good as the draft kind. Anyway, lots of good beer at the festival. One year (probably 2001, as I wasn't working) I went on the Friday, and that was cool, because there were far fewer people there. This is just a picture of the family downing some sweet amber liquid!
Just some of the brewers who show up at the festival. I do like the incongruous banner. Can you spot it?
We had a fine time that weekend. Next time, however, we leave the country, and take pictures to prove it!
Stuff like this is fascinating to me. The history of the U. S. is full of weird little things like this, and it's kind of cool to track how the states were shaped. Check out what the states could have looked like if those lousy Nevadans hadn't been so greedy:
History is, as usual, cool.
Top Ten Day: My favorite cartoons
1. Star Blazers. Good golly, I love this cartoon. I remember playing outside with my two best friends around 1980 and stopping whatever we were doing at 3.30 because Star Blazers was coming on. This was in the days when kids actually played outside, remember. But we always knew when to quit! The two main storylines - the quest of the battleship Yamato to find Iskandar and stop the Gamelons from bombing Earth; the assault by the Comet Empire - were simply wonderful, full of action, adventure, some romance (blech!), and plenty of weird sights and sounds. I never read comic books as a kid, but this kind of serial story prepped me for them later in life. We had to watch every day! And when we found out that Gamelon and Iskandar were really twin planets - wow. What a bombshell! What a great freakin' show. I have a few episodes on DVD, but have never gotten all of them. It would probably be a costly thing, but when I watched them again a few years ago, they were still fun to watch, so it might be worth it.
2. Battle of the Planets. Another Japanese import, even more obscure than Star Blazers. For years I couldn't remember what this was called, because after it aired here, it dropped off the cultural radar. My friend Ken finally reminded me, and later, it turned out my lovely wife watched both this and Star Blazers, which was one of the many reasons I fell in love with her. The G-Force, as they were called, always fought the same villain, but the fact that they were five kids, one of whom was portly, made them intriguing. And the Phoenix Force, which manifested when they combined their powers, was awesome. A real blast of a show, but one that probably wouldn't hold up as well as Star Blazers. I read a few issues of the comic book based on it a few years ago, and they just weren't that good. Still, for an 11-year-old, this was the shit.
3. Futurama. I know it's sacreligious, but I always liked Futurama more than The Simpsons, even though the latter is a great, great television show. Futurama looked cooler, because the animation is better, and Fry always seemed like a better slacker than Homer. It's wildly funny, and its skewering of pop culture is spot on. All the characters are excellent, too, with Katey Sagal's Leela shining above all. It's sad that this never got the ratings that The Simpsons did, because it is just as brilliant as that is.
4. The Simpsons. Meanwhile, it's amazing to consider that several critics consider this one of the top five television programs ever. That's bizarre. Its quality has slipped in the past decade, but for a few years, it was as good as anything we had ever seen, and even in decline, it still manages to get a lot of laughs. The focus on Homer in the late 1990s hurt it, but recently, they seem to be back on track a bit, even though the humor isn't as good. Still, it's better than almost any other comedy on television, and that's not bad.
5. The Transformers. I know this is coming out as a live-action movie, but I doubt if I'll see it - how can it compete with my childhood memories???? I always loved this cartoon, and even though it tended to get a bit repetitive after a while, I loved seeing the robots transform and kick the crap out of each other. And that vulture robot was really cool. I mean, how sinister can you get, having a vulture robot???? And the sound effects when they transformed were excellent.
6. G. I. Joe. This is another mid-1980s cartoon that, like The Transformers, probably wouldn't hold up today. Maybe it would. But back in the day, it was awesome. I loved the action and the villains and the fact that the battles would be thick with laser fire yet no one ever got hit! This was The A-Team of cartoons! And was the any character cooler than Snake Eyes? I think not!
7. Secret Squirrel. Secret Squirrel was always fun, and even though I never saw very much of him, due to the fact that the episodes didn't show up that often (he was created in 1965, six years before I was born), I always had a soft spot in my heart for him. I liked the whole spy spoof thing, I liked Morocco Mole, I liked the freakin' holes in Secret's hat! What the hell was up with that? This was a goofy cartoon, but those are often the best kind, right?
8. The Mighty Heroes. Is this the most obscure item on the list? None of these are exactly obscure, but The Mighty Heroes didn't last long in 1966, and they resurfaced over the years but never became cultural icons, but I still love them. How can you not love Strong Man, Rope Man, Tornado Man, Cuckoo Man, and Diaper Man? They fought crime, they made jokes, Diaper Man swung his bottle at the bad guys and bashed them - it was all grand! Very poor animation, but I didn't care back then - I was too busy enjoying the hell out of the show.
9. Jonny Quest. Not the new version, which is pretty bad, but the old version, which rocked. I loved Jonny Quest - the exotic locations, the weird villains, and the fact that bad guys actually died occasionally! The animation was pretty good, too, and even though I hated Bandit, it didn't ruin the show for me. This was James Bond and Indiana Jones wrapped up in one show, and it was so much fun to watch the gang blow stuff up and escape from various death traps!
10. Superfriends. Yes, Wendy and Marvin were lame, as were the Wonder Twins. But when the Justice League - whoops, I mean the Superfriends - went up against the Legion of Doom, who hung out in that great headquarters, it was good stuff. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't buy comics when I was a lad - accessibility, maybe? - but I sure did love these heroes. Especially Apache Chief and Samurai. I don't know why.
11. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Yes, this list goes to eleven! I couldn't leave without including this cartoon, which introduced me to the Marvel Universe years before I started reading about it. The old Spider-Man cartoon had the great theme song, but this had better animation and better villains, including a bunch of X-Men bad guys (which makes sense, as his "friends" - Iceman and Firestar - were mutants). The episode where the Juggernaut comes oh so close to bashing Professor Xavier is one of my favorites. What a cool show.
So there you have it, arrested adolescents! What are some of your favorites? Share!
Picture Day returns in triumph and ... in black and white!?!?
Early in 1999 I slapped some black-and-white film into my camera and hit the town! There's really nothing cooler than black-and-white pictures ... except pictures with color! But these are still pretty neat-o.
This is Southwest ... Taylor, I think, in downtown Portland. It's where the light rail turns and heads east-west instead of north-south. This is in the middle of the morning, by the way, and the streets are deserted. What's up with that?
This is the side wall of the Lotus Café and Cardroom, as you can see. A very cool mural. I was only in the Lotus once, I believe, but I used to walk by it a lot.
Here's a staged picture, but I still dig it. These are all the people in my row at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon. I had them all stand up and staggered so I could see them all. I call this "Life in the Cube Farm."
Between my work and Portland State was this pizza place. They had pretty good pizza. I just like the irony in the picture.
This is our cat, Zoe - the one who died last year. Like most cats, she liked to hide under rugs and such, and we often didn't get the camera quickly enough. My friend Jeff drew this picture for us that Christmas, and I got it framed and gave it to Krys as a present. It's hanging in our kitchen right now!
So those are just some random photographs from around town. Next time color returns to Picture Day!
Great songs, according to me (Part 26)
As always, here are the rest of them: Parts 1-15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, and Part 25. But that's in the past, man - let's move on!
251. I Better Be Quiet Now (by Elliot Smith on the album Figure 8, 2000): Elliot Smith killed himself a little over three years ago, and the tragedy is made even worse, possibly, when you go back and listen to his songs and realize what a mess he was. It's still great music, but one wonders why people close to him didn't see it coming. This song is an example, as Smith's lighter-than-air vocals float over barely-there music, singing a beautiful song about not taking any chances and simply fading away. Like a lot of Smith's songs, it simply exists for a few minutes, then disappears, like a dream that you want to recapture but can't. Kind of like Smith himself.
252. I Can't Explain (by The Who on the album Who's Last, 1984): Speaking of not being able to explain, this song doesn't seem to appear on any album until 1984, even though it was one of the band's earliest singles. It didn't show up on their first album, for instance. That's weird. Anyway, this may have been the first Who song I ever heard (or the first Who song I heard and knew it was The Who) and it's still a great one. It's simple and powerful, with all the jangly Sixties guitar that makes those songs memorable and Daltry whining those lyrics in front of the horrible back-up vocals (really flat are the boys). The back-up vocals don't ruin the tune, though, which is just one of those trademark singles from back in the day. Sing along!
253. I Could Have Lied (by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, 1991): I'm not sure if I've written about my love/hate relationship with this album. It's too long, and contains some truly awful songs, and I really wish the Peps had cut about half of it to make a really tight rock album, but they didn't. Boo, Anthony and Flea! But this song about lost love is very nice, and Anthony's lyrics, despite the soulful way he sings, cut into you harshly, as all songs about lost love do. Musically it's not on par with some of the other Peppers' stuff, but this album marked the beginning of the band's move toward more middle-aged rock, and although a lot of what they've released since then has been coma-inducing, this song, with its cruel little edge, makes the subsequent ones pale in comparison.
254. I Don't Want That Kind Of Love (by Jesus Jones on the album Liquidizer, 1989): This is Jesus Jones' first album, before they blew up in 1990, and although it's not as good as Doubt, it's still a pretty decent disc. This song, with its rumbling bass and disco feel, keeps you bopping your head, and Mike Edwards' smooth vocals combined with the rather snide lyrics get under your skin (in a good way). A neat little song.
255. I Don't Want To Be Alone (by Billy Joel on the album Glass Houses, 1980): This is one of those songs that Billy Joel does really well - slightly funky (yes, funky) but smooth enough for radio play, and those lyrics sung with a kind of tired resolve that this is the way the world is and we need to muddle through as best we can. It seems like an upbeat song about two people forgetting past mistakes and getting back together, but it's not really - it's simply about people grabbing a moment even though they know it won't lead anywhere. Both of them have hurt and been hurt, but for the moment, it doesn't matter. A sweet yet ultimately sad song - the best kind!
256. I Don't Want To See The Sights (by the Charlatans on the album Between 10th and 11th, 1992): This album is one of those hidden classics, and this song, which kicks it off, sets a great tone for the rest of the disc. It starts with a crunchy guitar that brings us in and doesn't quite rock, but gets you bobbing your head with its groovy rhythm. It's actually a depressing song, as we're treated to a sight of gray despair in England, but the lyrics also offer a way out - we can make things better for ourselves, if we only want to. And isn't that a nice message?
257. I Hear A Symphony (by The Supremes on the album I Hear A Symphony, 1966): I'm not sure if I've ever spoken of my love for the Supremes on the blog, but I love them. They are, in my mind, the perfect Motown group, and their songs are simply fantastic, even the weirdo ones ("Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine" - really?). This is just a standard Supremes love song, but that doesn't matter - it's just great! Admit it! Bow down to Lady Diana! Those smooth vocals blending - "Whenever you're near I hear a symphony" - how can you resist? Answer: you cannot!
258. I Held Her In My Arms (by the Violent Femmes on the album The Blind Leading the Naked, 1986): After their first album, the Femmes had a bit of an uneven career, but I really like this, their third offering, and this song is a big reason why. It begins with horns, and we expect a jazzy, upbeat kind of thing, but Gordon's lyrics bring us back down - "I can't even remember if we were lovers or if I just wanted to, but I held her in my arms, I held her in my arms, I held her in my arms but it wasn't you." Because the music remains jumpy and fresh throughout, the lyrics bite deeper, and even though they're not super-duper profound, they have a nice emotional impact. Fine stuff from the snotty Milwaukee punks.
259. I Melt With You (by Modern English on the album After the Snow, 1983): Yes, we should all know this song from Valley Girl, with the most excellent Nicolas Cage, but man! it's a good song. I bought the album long ago and listen to it seldom, even though it has plenty of good tunes on it, but this song stays with me. It has that great New Wave sound, with the keyboards substituting for other instruments, but still sounding great, and those great lyrics: "Moving forward using all my breath, making love to you was never second best." Of course, when they stop and hum for a while, before kicking it back up with the great chorus, that just seals the deal. Fine, fine music.
260. I Remember You (by Steve Earle on the album Jerusalem, 2002): For a country singer with a raspy voice, Steve Earle writes some damned fine love songs, and he sings them with some damned fine emotion. And he gets Emmylou Harris to sing duets with him, which makes them even better (I really have to get some Emmylou Harris albums, don't I?). This song begins with Earle's growly voice, and then Harris' twang, and then they both sing, and they make beautiful music together. They both invest such longing in relatively simple lyrics that we're swept along, and we root for these two to get back together. Well, the people in the song, not Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris. I don't really care who they hook up with.
So there we have another ten songs. Yes, I'm slow with these. I've lost all my readers, so it doesn't really matter, does it? Although I would like to thank Eddie for his Christmas gift, which was unexpected. He sent me a couple a mix CDs and some treats, and if I could find his e-mail address anywhere I would thank him that way, but I can't. So thanks, Eddie! I hope you had a great holiday!
Anyway, thoughts are welcome, as usual. How kooky is my taste in music? You can tell me!
Fun Republican betting game
What was the point of that speech, anyway? Congress already granted him dictatorial powers to deploy troops, so sending more to Iraq didn't require a speech. He wasn't asking for permission to do it. It sounded a lot like the same old plan regarding Iraq, so why did he have to go on? I think we should all see less of our politicians, not more, so just stay off the television, Mr. Bush, and continue sending 20-year-olds to be killed. Why you want all those 20-year-olds to die is something you and God can discuss.