I can watch Steve Carell in almost anything. He adds tremendous nuance to the characters he plays, a rarity today in the Will Farrell comedy world, where big screen acting is just "goofing off."
And Carell did a great job in Get Smart. But the movie just didn't do it for me. It seems a lot of the summer movies are turning into disappointments. I liked The Happening, but just about everyone else didn't. And Love Guru is getting horrible reviews. Other than Iron Man, which I've heard nonstop glowing reviews about from my 13-year-old son and just about anyone else who has seen it, does anyone know any summer movies out there that are worth seeing?
In the meantime, here's the world's greatest Playlist 30, which kicks off with an amazing orchestral piece that I wrote and recorded last night.
Would you believe that Playlist 30 kicks off with my Pulitzer Prize-winning essay on faith, my undying love for classical poetry and my work on the human genome project?
How about a Playlist 30 that lists some stuff
I liked last week?
Geek Love. Katherine Dunn.
If you decide to read Geek Love, you will either devour every single page and love it, finding a sense of empathy and "normalness" in these family-manufactured freaks. Or you'll throw it down, disgusted. Could be the utter lack of morals, the mutilation or the incest without sex -- if you make it that far. Either way, what you will read will likely stay with you for a long, long time.
Here's the story: Al and Lil Binewski used drugs and isotopes during Lil's pregnancies to create their own family of geeks. Their children include the bald albino humpback dwarf Olympia (the narrator), the piano-playing Siamese twins Electra and Iphy, Arturo the Aqua Boy (born with flippers instead of arms and legs) and the telekinetic Chick. The book picks up steam as the despicable Arty grows more powerful and slowly takes the reins of the circus from Al and Lil, while building a cult-like following.
The book has a second, much less interesting, story line involving a grown Oly, who keeps an eye on her daughter Miranda, as well as an aging Lil. They all live in the same apartment, but neither Miranda or Lil know their tie to Oly. The section has its own Arty in the rich, but secretive Mary Lick.
Geek Love is sickening. Disgusting. And filthy. But it's also funny. Extremely well-written. And very memorable. I see Katherine Dunn has written two other books. I know I shouldn't read them, but I'm afraid I won't be able to help myself.
Meanwhile, check out this week's Wikipedia link for the story of the infamous and highly controversial 1932 horror film Freaks, where director Todd Browning cast real deformed people, in the role of "freaks" instead of using make-up.
Evil Urges. My Morning Jacket
MMJ continues to take risks to expand its sound. On one track -- the hideous Highly Suspicious -- it fails. But otherwise, they deliver a thorough, surprising adventure from the country-tinged Look at You and soulful Thank You, Too to the touching book worm-loving ode Librarian. Jim James and co. still rock though, as evidenced on the driving Remnants. This is not quite the statement they made with Z, nor as cohesive. But it's one of the most refreshing albums released this year.
Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy. Lagunitas Brewing Company.
So I'm at Total Wine, selecting singles to create my own six-pack. My son and his friend follow me in. (They're getting a vanilla creme soda and root beer.) As I search along the shelves for new beer to try, my son's friend hollers: "Ewww. Don't get this beer with the weird man on it." I go over to look and see Frank with his big schnoz looking down on me.
Thank you Lagunitas for brewing up this fine beer in honor of the 40th anniversary of one of many great FZ albums. The beer was stronger than what I usually enjoy, but it had an awesome malty taste with a slight fruity smell. It's a great beer that I very highly recommend, whether you're hanging with the Grand Wazoo, or just jammin' in Joe's Garage.
Open. Cowboy Junkies.
The Cowboy Junkies captured magic with their major label debut Trinity Session. Their authentic (recorded live in a church with one microphone) blend of country, folk and blues with a dash of Velvet Underground is one of the few albums I could listen to every day and never tire.
I has not listened to much else in the Junkies' catalog until I purchased their 2001 release Open at the Princeton Record Exchange. First, it's no Trinity Session. You still have Margo Timmin's hushed vocals and the well-placed blasts of harmonica. Alan Anton's bass still carries each song. But Michael Timmins' phasered and fuzzed guitar is turned up on some tracks, such as the crunching Dark Hole Again. Some songs, especially the album's best moment I'm So Open, move along at a faster pace than the snail-like Trinity Sessions. Not that there's anything approaching upbeat here. Open is a great set of moody, often dark music, that rewards those who stick through several listens.