Thursday, March 31, 2011

Final Thursday Music: Bruce Woolly & The Camera Club

I am one of those rockfiends who likes to check out the friends, peers and cohorts of bands that look to for my fix. Bruce Woolly co-wrote a couple of notable tunes with one Mr. Horn and on Mr. Downes, also know as the Buggles. Video Killed the Radio Star and Clean, Clean the tunes in question were included on the Buggles first album, which if you only know their hit is chocked full or other electro pop numbers that often deal with the darker side of the beautiful world of tomorrow.

On their one album (English Garden in the UK, Bruce Woolly & The Camera Club in the USA) Woolly and his band, produced a more New Wave/ Power Pop/ rock take on the kinds of material that the Buggles also produced. More Retro than Futuristic, Woolly has more human, rawer sound than the Buggles while still having the skeptical view of the future. It is a little thin sound wise, but that is part if it’s charm.

The CD issue of the album can be had for $$$ on Amazon, but I was never so interested that I would pay that much for a copy. However, while poking around my local record shop I found an LP copy of the record for $5. It’s one of those albums that I have always been interested in and when I saw the cover I knew that I needed to pick it up.

Video Killed the Radio Star and Clean, Clean sound more rock then the versions most of us are familiar with. The rest of the tunes are solid, late 80s power pop tunes. I think the record has aged well, and that over 30 years later it is ripe for rediscovery.

More final Thursday forgotten music over at Scott Parker's Blog HERE

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Video Rage: The Death of the Video Store

(Current Big Georges in Ann Arbor)

As I recall the first films my mother ever rented for us were the Robin Williams and Walter Matthau film Survivors and. ahhhh hell I don’t recall the other one, I used to know, but I do know that both came from the local electronics store called Big Georges where my mother had purchased a Betamax VCR, it was a great machine and lasted for years and years, it even outlasted it’s format. When it broke my mother took it to get fixed, and they sold her another beta for the same cost of fixing the original so we had two beta machines in the house for the longest time.

But this is about the video store, not about the machines. Over time the VCR became as ubiquitous as the TV in the American home, and it has now largely disappeared, replaced by the DVD and the Computer and what ever else, Tevio? Along with the vanishing of the VCR we are seeing the vanishing of the Video Store, and it strikes me that while there are those that are concerned by the passing of the bookshop and the record store, but there seems to be little interest in the passing of the era of the video store.
My earliest memories of renting videos were of going to Big Georges and picking out films. I recall seeing the box for Texas Chainsaw Massacre and being freaked out by it, I recall renting Dudes, and Moscow on the Hudson, along with a lot of the HBO Fairy Tale Theater episodes. Big Georges quit renting videos after a year of two; mostly as Mom and Pop video stores were starting to open in the area. I am under the impression that electronic stores did the same thing with records once music stores started to appear on the scene. The arrival of the Mom and Pop was the first major step in the growth of the industry. We were not sad to see Big Georges sell of their video stock, and we were able to buy several of out favorite films when they sold off their collection.

This was when videos were really expensive, a Beta or VHS tape retailed for over $30 often in the 80s, they were high quality retail grade videos and the industry was still paying for the R&D costs of home video. I don’t think the industry got the clue that people would build libraries if the tapes were cheap enough until later on. It took some time, but the price of the units did come down, and now we live in a world of $5 DVDs at Target.

The next video shop I recall was a two-store chain in the area. I don’t recall it’s name, only that it was tucked in the back of a shopping center and that the tapes where kept in locked cases. There would be a tab with the video’s name on it and you would take that to the counter and they would unlock the case and get the video for you. They had a selection that was pretty good, but video rentals were on the expensive side and so you had to be careful with your selections. I can still see some of the tape boxes that I never got to see, Yor Hunter from the Future stands out for some reason that I always looked at but never rented. There was also the two-tape set of Apocalypse Now! that I was not allowed to rent, and I had to settle for the spoof tape Hardware Wars which had an anthology of funny riffs on; Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (closet cases of the Nerd Kind) and Apocalypse Now! (A Porkalypse Now) along with the classic Bambi V Godzilla. I also had my first voluntary encounter with The Bard (I think I had seen the Tempest with Molly Ringwald at the theater) a cartoon called Rome- O and Julie 8.

The Mom and Pops rose and fell as the industry refined its practices. Video stores came and went, stores would pop up in a shopping center and last for a year or two before closing, and it wasn’t long before the chains came into the market. Only having a Beta machine the number of places that we could rent was limited to stores that carried both VHS and Beta.

I am not sure if Video Outlet was a chain, but that was the next place that I recall renting from often. They had a ok beta section, which was a big deal because as everyone knows VHS did win the format battle, in part because of the dominance of the format at video stores. Beta was better quality and the tapes were smaller, but Sony kept the format locked up and fact that VHS machines and tapes were cheaper quickly caused beta to vanish from the market. We only had beta for years, and it wasn’t until my brother saved up several months of paper route money did we have a VHS in the house.

Anyway, Video Outlet was the first place that I recall having an Adult Film section, not that I ever went in to that room, but it was there. I do recall getting to see a lot of ninja, action, horror and comedies due to Video Outlet. I also recall renting a wide variety of off the wall films, both good and bad that I would not have seen other wise. It might have been at this point that I was finding my interest going off the mainstream track and looking for films that were not part of the conversation for film fans. To this day, I wish that I had gotten around to renting Summer Camp Nightmare, which I always saw on the racks. I should add that browsing the racks was as time consuming and delightful, just like spending time in a bookshop. It’s strange to think that I would love to have the chance to wander through the aisle of Video Outlet again maybe from a year before they closed and just see what was on the shelf.

Video Watch (later Hollywood Video) was the first chain store that I recall having a membership at. It was a big deal to as a teen to have my own card that let me rent without my mother’s approval. They were main video outlet that my friends and I rented from in high school. They had a better selection than I would expect from a chain these days, it was like Best Buy and music in their early days before they refined the formula of; popular titles, constant renters and few indie, non-English language, or odd ball titles that were so perfectly lampooned in Be Kind Rewind. I recall renting a lot of films there including the 1980s after the bomb oddity America 3000 (they also had Texas Gladiator 2020 which I never rented and am sure if pure crap, but the 15year old in my still wants to see it), and the first adult films that my friends and I checked out when I was 18.
When I returned from college, I had a slightly more sophisticated taste in film, and the local Panorama Video proved to have an interesting selection of films. They tended to stock enough indies and off the radar films to make them an attractive alternative to Hollywood Video. My main memories of films I rented there was that I was always happy to see stuff like Nice Girls Don’t Explode, and The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson because it was on their shelves.

I have to give the crown for the best Ann Arbor Video Store of all time to Liberty Street Video. A little hole in the wall to start, Liberty Street started in the 80s and eventually moved to its second location across the street from the first. They had a great selection of Foreign, Cult, LBGT and Documentaries that you didn’t see other places. I have a good friend who worked there for years and used to get in trouble for shelving the J Edgar Hoover biography in the LBGT section. Over the years I rented many many films there, and when they went out of business a couple of years back I was able to pick up VHS copies of some of my favorite forgotten gems, including a couple that I plan to cover in my 26 Films series this year. Of all the stores now gone, I think I miss Liberty Street the most. It was the kind of store that had a character all it’s own, and you could always count on finding films that were not on the shelves anywhere else in town.

There have been other video stores that I have liked and used over the years, outside of Ann Arbor. Howard Huges in Moscow Idaho had Zombie and the Ghost Train from Finland, and who recalls what else that I availed myself on. Gen X in East Lansing was regular hang out for me at the end of my time at Michigan State University where I bought comics and magazines more often than rented films, but is a fond memory. There was also a place, whose name completely is lost to me where you could rent 5 for $5. 5 rentals of titles no longer on the new release shelves for 5 days for $5.

I have been a Netflix fan for years, and for the most part have been very happy with them, but they are a different experience than going to the video store. I like a lot of people haven’t been a regular video store customer for a long time, and so I am at least in part to blame for their vanishing from the landscape. At the same time, while Amazon has killed book and music stores, I do find that my local Mom and Pop record and book shops have given me something that the local video stores didn’t. A place where I can meet with people who love books, or music and that I have made a point of shopping at. I find that if they don’t have what I am looking for on their shelves I am more than willing to have them order it, and more than willing to wait for things to come in. I know that there are indie video stores out there that have built their loyal customer bases, or have diversified their stock and business to include not only rentals, but also selling used DVDs, Books, Music, and that might be the only way for many of them to survive.

As it stands it seems that we are witnessing the end of the video store era and it’s worth looking back on and remembering.

(Howard Huges Video in Moscow ID)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

26 Soundtracks: Streets of Fire

Any film that’s billed as A Rock & Roll Fable better have a killer soundtrack, and Streets of Fire surprisingly manages to live up to that charge. The film is a slice of 80s neon soaked retro rock and tough guy patter. The plot follows Tom Cody, a vet who is back on the street, and looking for his Ex a Singer named Ellen Aim who has just been kidnapped by a gang and Tom and a group of hangers on have to rescue her. All of this looks cool, and has a certain charm, but it really ends up with the music being the star. Not only the star, but a bigger hit than the film with the best known track Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You" reaching Billboard’s top 10 in 1984. I recall having heard it often on the local Top 40 station when I was growing up. It’s a slick pop tune that is just catchy enough, just glossy enough and just smooth enough to be one of the greatest one hit wonder pop songs of the 80s.

The strongest and most overblown tunes on the soundtrack came from writer Jim Steinman, best know for his work with Meatloaf in the 70s. "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" and "Nowhere Fast," both by Fire Inc. have an urgency and power that can not be denied. They are grand and striking, and they keep a beat and energy that most songs this long can’t outside of musical theater. They have anthem written all over them, it’s almost too bad that they seem to be forgotten at this point. I would like to think that every 9th grade dance in the world would end with Tonight is What it Means to be Young.

The Blasters, a great 80s retro rockabilly band, not only provide two tracks for the album, but also appeared live playing One Bad Stud in the film. I don’t have their tracks listed under the album on my iTunes because they are included on their complete recordings, which I also own. Needless to say they are essential to any collection of 80s LA bands that should have been bigger. I also find there is a element of reality in their inclusion in Streets of Fire, as if their music and presence is saying that there is a reality beyond the faux 50s of the film that can’t be hidden.

The soundtrack for Streets of Fire is one of the best of the 80s, and it’s well worth picking up a copy. It is about time that someone out there got smart and offered an affordable Bluray/ DVD/ Download/ Copy of the Soundtrack all in one package.

Track listing

Fire Inc. - "Nowhere Fast"

Marilyn Martin - "Sorcerer"

The Fixx - "Deeper and Deeper"

Greg Phillinganes - "Countdown to Love"

The Blasters - "One Bad Stud"

Fire Inc. - "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young"

Maria McKee - "Never Be You"

Dan Hartman - "I Can Dream About You"

Ry Cooder - "Hold That Snake"

The Blasters - Blue Shadows

Next: Wristcutters The Original Soundtrack coming 7 April 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

26 Films: Pink Nights

Pink Nights


87 minutes

Staring: No one you ever heard of.

It’s always hard to write about something that just kinda leaves you …. Ehhhh… Pink Nights is one of those films. It’s set in Chicago during the mid 80s. The plot follows Danny, a recent High School Grad who has been left on his own by his mother and attracts the attention of 3 lovely young ladies who all eventually flop at his apartment.

This is supposed to be a romantic comedy about a shulb, or the 80s version of one, being pursued by three women. During my viewing of the film, and I only watched it once, and am not sure if it’s really worth repeating I did not note this plot. I never got the idea that all three of these women were interested in Danny. There’s a bunch of goings on and everyone get’s sorted out in the end.

…. However, that’s not really all that interesting to me, what was of interest was the time, the place, the clothes and the music. It’s been noted that the 80s were a special time (see House of Self Indulgence for a better recap of the era movie wise than I can provide) and you can make a case for the organic composition of the music, clothes and hair style of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 90s, and even the 00’s, the 80s were plastic, chemical and fully not natural. Ripped Jeans, leg warmers, two tone leotards during a dance sequence, the film is almost a bingo card or drinking game of 80s specific fashion. There is a shabby charm to seeing all of that again, and it’s almost worth watching the film just to see the streets of the windy city circa 85, I hope that someday some kid is going to string together a couple of hours of shot on location street shots of a city like Chicago showing us the city from let’s say 1940 to 2000. Where was I, oh yeah? Pink Nights, I really don’t have much else to say other than it’s not awful, it’s not great, there is one scene with a punk rocker that made me giggle

Random thoughts Observations:

Why was it in the 80s/90s when parents didn’t understand their kids the default answer was always “my kids on drugs”

80’s fashion alerts:

Guys wearing Half Shirts

Girls wearing off the shoulder shirts

A Tee Shirt with one large Chinese character

Leg warmers

(I think the 80s might have been the decade of the shirt?)

Next time: 90s indie flick Living in Oblivion

Friday, March 18, 2011

FFB: Mazes and Monsters & The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III

Mazes and Monsters (1981) by Rona Jaffe
The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III (1984) by William Dear

The Dark Tunnel, the steam tunnels below the university play a role in the book. The tunnels that he was writing about are the ones that run under the University of Michigan. I have been in those tunnels, as a new hire at U of M DPS back in the late 90s I had an afternoon orientation to the steam tunnels. I can tell you first hand that they are dirty, dark and really not fun to crawl though. Steam Tunnels run under the grounds of a lot of Universities in this country and I am sure that most of them have a legend about a kid playing Dungeon’s and Dragons in them, going crazy and dying. It’s the stuff of urban legends, and there is a real history to the legend.

Most of us know of the legend because of the 1981 book Mazes and Monsters by Rona Jaffe, and the Made for TV Film staring a young Tom Hanks, which arrived a year later.

The book was based largely on the new paper reports of a missing student at Michigan State University in 1979. Raffe reportedly wrote the book very quickly to prevent someone else from grabbing the story and making it to print before her.

The plot is revolves around a group college students who play a role playing game, Mazes and Monsters, one of the group has never recovered from the disappearance of his brother. He has an episode while playing in a local cave with his group and believes that he is now his character and sets off on a quest to find his missing brother. The characters are pretty cardboard, little more than names with the right off center quirks to attract them to their group and the game.

I first encountered Mazes and Monsters as the TV Movie, which I enjoyed and recall to this day (in part because of having seen it on VHS in the late 80s). The story is perfect for the TV film format, where the actors could fill out the emotional dimension missing from the book. I later did read the book, and found it to be little more than an exercise in plot more than anything else.

The newspaper reports that Rona Jaffe had drawn from were about a missing college student James Dallas Egbert. PI William Dear had speculated that maybe James had gone into the steam tunnels to play D&D and the press ran with it. D&D was one of those boogey men, like Heavy Metal Music, that parents in the late 70s and into the 80s blamed for their kids issue. There were various calls from mainly wing nut types for regulation of the game, and a lot of fear by patents about what playing these games was doing to their kids.

The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III (1984) by William Dear recounted the facts of the case and largely dispelled the notion that D&D had anything to do with the Egbert case. Dear recounts the story of Egbert a child prodigy who was sent off to Michigan State by his parents when he was 16 years old and left largely unsupervised by the school. Egbert apparently buckled under the academic pressure, drug problems and other issues; he entered the steam tunnels to commit suicide and vanished. After several weeks he was found and the case was closed. It’s been a decade since I read the book, but of the two it’s the most interesting, not only because of the portrait of the James Dallas Egbert that it paints, but also it is a snap shot of a time and a place this is no longer. It’s also of note because it at least attempted to set the record straight on a story that took on a life of it’s own and passed into urban myth.

I would say that of the two books it’s the better read, and I highly recommend it. I would also recommend the film Mazes and Monsters, and I think I might just have to revisit it myself.

More Friday Forgotten Books can be found at Patti Abbott's blog here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Queen of the Minor Key: Eilen Jewell 12 March 2011 @ The Ark

Eilen Jewell
12 March 2011
The Ark in Ann Arbor

It’s been a while since I took in a concert, and I when I heard that Eilen Jewell was going to be playing the Ark in Ann Arbor I really had no excuse to go. Eilen has been on my musical radar for a while, I wrote about her previously on this blog (see the link at the bottom) and have been wanting to see her live.

Musically she identifies as a folkie, at least on stage, but she also dabbles in country and Rock and Roll, most of her material is originals, but she is not afraid to record and play covers live. She said near the start of the show that the plan was to release a new record each year, and a records of originals every other year…. Which of course leaves me wondering what her next cover project is going to be. It might just be wishful thinking on my part, but I hope she gives us an album of 80’s Paisley Underground/ Cowpunk covers, anyway.

The show started at the reasonable hour of 8PM and ended just before 10 PM, which was perfect for me as I was coming off a 9-hour workday. I wish that more shows would have earlier start and finishing times for us old people who work weekends. The Ark is a very nice and stylish room, and I would love to see more shows there, only it’s very Baby Boomer / Post-Yuppie (just like most of the rest of the Townie side of Ann Arbor), and I can only take so much of that…. But more to the point, I don’t see a lot of acts playing there that interest me… let me head off a rant and just say that I am waiting for Kevn Kinney, Stan Ridgeway and Kepi Ghoulie get a chance to play there.

Ok, OK, Eilen Jewell was charming, soft spoken and accessible. She had an easy rapport with the audience keeping control of the stage, but also engaging with the audience. Her voice was clear, twangy, and strong with just the right hints of vulnerability. She spoke about her preference for spooky minor key songs, and dressing in black. Her songs have the sad dark edge and mournful melancholy of Goth rock, but she was surprisingly up beat and chipper on stage where she was clearly having fun.

I suspect that her band could easily double as a surf and Rockabilly band in a pinch. They were solid and perfect accompaniment, never over taking her control of the stage, but also standing strongly on their own and not disappearing into the shadows. They interacted with each other and the audience with an easy give and take that speaks to a musical unit that has a core respect and trust for each other.

Eilen played a selection of new and old tunes, some from her first album and some from her forthcoming record, along with a selection of covers from her albums. There were a couple of tunes from her Loretta Lynn Tribute, Eric Andersen’s ‘Dusty Box Car Wall’, Them’s ‘I'm Gonna Dress In Black” and of course Johnny Kidd & The Pirates classic ‘Shakin’ All Over’. I am going to have to track down copies of the Andersen and Them tracks along with their other work. I know Them, and once upon a time owned a best of LP, which I fear, was sold off in the purge of 2002. The selection of songs and the interaction with the audience carried the show along and left me feeling like it was an evening well spent.

I can’t sign off with out wondering what covers she has planned in the future and throwing a couple of songs that I would love to hear Eilen take a crack at. I have a whole list of tunes that I thought of while watching and shortly after the show, but here are my top ten:

1. Time Forgot You by Legal Weapon
2. Shadowdrive by The Jet Black Berries
3. You Wild Colorado by Johnny Cash
4. Sound of the Rain by Rank’n’File
5. Night of the Long Grass by The Troggs
6. Dark White by Bonniewell Music Machine
7. Poison Love by Blood on the Saddle
8. Johnny remember Me by Johnny Layton
9. Sixteen Way by Green on Red
10. Through the Wire by The Leningrad Cowboys

Her album Queen of the Minor Key is slated for a 28 June 2011 release, I plan to pick up a copy, and you should check it out.

Eilen Jewell's Web Site can be found HERE

The Ark in Ann Arbor, where Eilen and her band have played several times, and when they come back I hope to be there.

Previous post about Eilen Jewell HERE

Thursday, March 10, 2011

26 Soundtracks: Singles

I vividly recall being in a local record shop on June 29, 1992 poking around and spotting the Singles Soundtrack on the new releases rack. My friends and I promptly took copies to the counter where we were informed that the record wouldn’t go on sale until the next day. We grumbled about the store staff having I put them out when they were not yet for sale and left. The next day we dutifully stopping into one of the other many record shops in town to pick copies on CD.

This was the first listen any of us had of what Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam might have to offer us with their next albums, which we were all waiting for. We also got to hear other bands from that scene. The Soundtrack would go on to sell millions and not only served as a primer for the Seattle Scene, but was also a mainstream introduction of; The Screaming Trees, Mother Love Bone and Mudhoney to many listeners.

Singles might be the single greatest soundtrack to feature then contemporary music, which not only had it’s pulse on the music of the moment moving from the underground to the mainstream, but also highlights the time and place where the film took place. The music was included in the film not only as score elements, but as in film music. It also set off a crush of film soundtracks that were more like compilations.

The moment when the album arrived the music world was changing. The hair metal and boy band pop that had dominated the recent charts was washed away in a flood grunge (a mix of metal, punk and indie rock). This was music that wasn’t afraid of the dark side of life that was seeping into the reality of generation X as they started to enter the work force.

The song titles are like Film Music Cues: Breath, Would?, Overblown, State of Love and Trust, Drown. They act that way though out the film as well, but also stand on their own. The passage of time has only deepened their emotional impact. In hide sight, songs like Nearly Lost You (by the amazing Screaming Trees, even if you are not a fan of the era or Seattle music scene you owe it to yourself to check out their major label albums), Mudhoney’s Overblown and especially Would? By Alice in Chains take on new meaning and heft.

We should take a moment here to remember the passing of Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, and Andy Wood of Mother Love Bone, but gone but not forgotten. I also think taking a moment for career of Chris Cornel of Soundgarden. His solo track Seasons pointed to a major career on his own, it’s just too bad that it never materialized.

It’s also a case where more people bought the soundtrack than saw the film, it served also to highlight the change in the music scene at that moment, and holds up to this day…. Which begs the question, where is the deluxe reissue, the 180 gram vinyl with the dialog clips and full liner notes? At the very least I recommend everyone that has a copy collecting dust somewhere pull it out and give it a spin.

Track List:

Would? by Alice In Chains

Breath by Pearl Jam

Seasons By Chris Cornell

Dyslexic Heart by Paul Westerberg

Battle of Evermore by Lovemongers

Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns by Mother Love Bone

Birth Ritual by Soundgarden

State of Love and Trust by Pearl Jam

Overblown by Mudhoney

Waiting for Somebody by Paul Westerberg

May This Be Love by Hendrix

Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees

Drown by Smashing Pumpkins

Monday, March 7, 2011

26 Films: Pyrates



Once upon a time there was a place called 1991 and it started out in a much different world than it ended up in. It started out on the fumes of the Regan Era, Gulf War I, Hair Metal and the last moments of the Cold War. By the end of the year we were on the cusp of a new day, the Boomers would soon take the White House, the USSR would become a historical oddity and Grunge music would storm the charts.

It was also the year that I graduated High School, I ran off to a little university in the middle of nowhere and traded one reality that I didn’t fit into for another… oh and it was also the year that a surprisingly entertaining indie sex comedy was released.

Pyrates is the story of Ari (Kevin Bacon) a photographer and Sam (Kyra Sedgwick) a musician. They meet and fall into lust, and when they get down things get flammable, scenes from the film In Old Chicago play and next thing you know the fire department shows up. It’s the old story of boy meets girl, they have sex, there’s fire, boy looses girl, ect. What makes a standard set up like this succeed is the story telling behind it.

Pyrates is a film that partly works. There are a lot of nice touches, a lot of moments that can be looked back upon as the element that were going to pop up in a lot of the indie Rom Coms of the 90s, and it’s a film that is firmly planted in that moment at the start of the 90s, Ari even says early on in the film “Love, lust, this is enough to get me though the 90s!” There are chapter titles between sections of the film, a hip out there art world and contemporary music can be heard, and there is just the hint that what is to come ins a new world under pinning the film

Sometimes there are little scenes that are more interesting than the film as a whole, and while some of the dialog is inspired some of it is dull. For every zingy exchange like Ari telling his roommate “She had visions” and his room mate saying “Who did you fuck, Joan of Ark?” or Sedgwick unloading on a date, calling him yuppie scum who give’s her generation a bad name; there is plenty of flat dialog. There are also a number of contrived scenes that really don’t live up to the ones that sparkle. In the end it’s the ones that sparkle that make Pyrates worth seeking out. On that I really liked the scene where Sam calls Ari on the phone and asks what books are next to his bed… the answer:

Philip Roth

Latest Fantastic Four

Singing Detective

The Total Film Actor by Jerry Lewis

T.S. Elliot Old Possum’s book of practical cats

Mad Lib’s 124

Bacon and Sedgwick have been married since the late 80’s and have two kids the last of which was born shortly after Pyrates was released they have also appeared together in: Murder in the First, The Woodsman and Loverboy. Strangely the chemistry between them in this film is kinda flat, and when you compare it to the chemistry between Sedgwick and Campbell Scott in Singles from the same time, you’d never believe that Bacon and Sedgwick could be a real couple. When you think of it that way, it’s the films biggest failing. All in all, if you get the chance, it is worth a look.

Next: Pink Nights

Friday, March 4, 2011

FFB: Overload Book 10: Michigan Madness

FFB: Overload Book 10: Michigan Madness by Bob Ham

Bantam- Falcon Adventure. $3.50 in the USA

Published April 1991

Marc Lee and Carl Brown are a pair of former commandos who have returned to the civilian life and now drive big rigs coast to coast and along the way have adventures, as chronicled in the Overload series by Bob Ham about a dozen of which were published around the end of the 80s and starting of the 90s.

According to my notes I read this one back in April of 1991, at the time I was in my last semester of my senior year of high school. I was the one kid in my school who was reading what my creative writing teacher dismissed at the ‘books you find in line at the grocery store’. I loved that they were nothing more than escapist adventure tales, and the fact that this generally tended to piss off my classmates and keep me separate from them.

Men’s adventure books of the era we in a strange place. The pulp tales of the 30s, the WWII stories of the 40s had given away to a world where most of the globe had been vigorously explored, where colonial powers were watching their foreign holdings becoming independent. By the 80s we were a post Vietnam world, and the biggest influence on Adventure story telling had to be films like Rambo, Death wish and Die Hard.

Overload as a series dealt with the fears of the day, Satanists and Terrorists, as Nazi’s, Commies, and homegrown revolutionaries having faded as the big threats of the time. Notice that I am not getting into the in’s and out’s of the story of the book, as I honestly don’t recall them, and my recent attempt to re-read the book wasn’t so much a failure as my lack of interest gave way to my having picked up other titles that seemed to hold more promise as leisure reading worth my time, energy and interest. I am sure that we all have those books that we read once upon a time that we all now look back and wonder what we were thinking. I read the Overload Series, the Mutant’s Amok Series, the Freedom’s Rangers Series, and others that I have long forgotten and dismissed as a teen and early twenty something, and as I gave them my time, they are worth at least looking back at.