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Rocky – The Musical

It came to me in a dream the other night.

Rocky – The Musical.

  1. Fight Night in Philly – Chorus
  2. Three Part Medley
    1. Not Just a Bum in the Street – Rocky
    2. It’s Paulie’s Way (or it’s the Highway) – Paulie
    3. Quiet Interlude – Adrian
  3. ‘Cuz I’m the Champ – Apollo
  4. Spit and Toil – Mickey
  5. Here on the Docks – Rocky
  6. The Italian Stallion (That’s my man!) – Apollo
  7. There’s Got to be a Better Way – Rocky/Adrian
  8. ‘Cuz He’s the Chump – Apollo
  9. Let’s Moi’der ‘Em, Kid – Mickey/Rocky
  10. He’s So Strong (Why is he so weak?) – Adrian
  11. When the Bell Rings – Adrian/Rocky/Apollo/Mickey/Paulie
  12. Until We Fall – Rocky/Apollo
  13. Victory Song – Rocky
  14. Rocky, I Love You – Adrian/Chorus

Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom

I may as well head off my morning television at the past, because I’m pretty sure tomorrow’s Today show will be nothing but highlights and segments and segments of highlights of the weirdo interview that took place between Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise this past week, the bulk of which has to do with this odd as hell exchange:

We asked Cruise to explain his recent comments regarding Brooke Shields. Cruise created a firestorm when he criticized Shields for revealing that she went into therapy and took antidepressants to deal with her postpartum depression. Cruise has said that, as a Scientologist, he doesn’t believe in psychiatric medicine.

Cruise: I’ve never agreed with psychiatry, ever. Before I was a Scientologist I never agreed with psychiatry. And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn’t believe in psychology.

And as far as the Brooke Shields thing, look, you got to understand, I really care about Brooke Shields. I think, here’s a wonderful and talented woman. And I want to see her do well. And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science.

Lauer: But Tom, if she said that this particular thing helped her feel better, whether it was the antidepressants or going to a counselor or psychiatrist, isn’t that enough?

Cruise: Matt, you have to understand this. Here we are today, where I talk out against drugs and psychiatric abuses of electric shocking people, okay, against their will, of drugging children with them not knowing the effects of these drugs. Do you know what Aderol is? Do you know Ritalin? Do you know now that Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?

Lauer: The difference is —

Cruise: No, no, Matt.

Lauer: This wasn’t against her will, though.

Cruise: Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt —

Lauer: But this wasn’t against her will.

Cruise: Matt, I’m asking you a question.

Lauer: I understand there’s abuse of all of these things.

Cruise: No, you see. Here’s the problem. You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do.

Unfortunately for us, like most journalists who walk straight into a gold mine these days, Matt royally blew his opportunity for a follow up. Cruise just said that he knows the history of psychiatry, so why not ask him to summarize it for us? He just qualified himself as an expert on the subject.

Fortunately for Tom (not to mention Steven Spielberg, whose War of the Worlds depends to some degree on the salability of the one-day hunk), there is no need to answer such an obvious question. Because if he did get into the “history” of why Scientology is so anti-psychiatry, America would be raising a very curious eyebrow and probably shouting out a simultaneous “WTF!?” to their once-beloved box office star.

Consider Scientology doctrine concerning Xenu, a galactic being roughly equivalent to Zeus, and the historical impact of his actions. And, no kids, I’m not making any of the following up. Wiki it yourself and see.

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of “renegades”, he defeated the populace and the “Loyal Officers”, a force for good that was opposed to Xenu. Then, with the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of people to paralyse them with injections of alcohol and glycol, under the pretense that they were being called for “income tax inspections.” The kidnapped populace was loaded into space planes for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The space planes were exact copies of Douglas DC-8s, “except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn’t.”

I was just trying to get some perspective on what Scientology is all about and why it views psychiatry the way it does, but anybody with half a brain ought to be able to pull the reigns on the horse by the time they get to Xenu. This stuff is completely whacked!

Please, if Tom Cruise is any where near talking about Teegeeack, or R6 implants, or space planes that look like Douglas DC-8 airplanes, do me a favor and Tivo it for me, because I like watching a lunatic rant and rave as much as the next guy.

Now, to be fair, I think it’s only right to take a cautious approach towards drugs as part of any therapy, especially depression or any mental diagnosis having to do with children. I personally believe that the human brain is as fragile as it is unboundedly healable. So, in most cases, even serious depression, I believe a non-medicated “talk” therapy is the best first step to take. If that doesn’t work, maybe certain medications are worth looking into. But I’m certainly willing to give you the full disclosure on the subject. I don’t know the history of psychiatry and I don’t pretend to.

But I do know somebody who does. Anybody care to ask him why?

Update: And just because… Tom Cruise Kills Oprah

Batman Begins

batman_begins.pngSay so long to the Batman franchise which started out so dark and brilliantly under Tim Burton and Michael Keaton, only to fizzle out like a 1974 Tab cola under Joel Schumacher and George Clooney. Those guys are so last millenium.

The real title for writer/director Christopher Nolan’s latest incarnation of the Dark Knight should simply be called “Batman Moves On.”

The new film bares little resemblance to the movies of the last decade, save for a few coincidences. Just like in the 1989 film, when the winged avenger makes his first appearance, he stoically whispers to the bad guy when asked about his identity, “I’m Batman.”

Well, yeah. What else is he supposed to say?

Actually, it may have well been made 800 years after those other movies, not 8, because in terms of what this movie says about the character of Batman, it’s light years ahead. Like Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Rachel, confides to him, “It’s not what you hide on the inside that counts, it’s the actions you take.” And that’s part of the real reason I think this movie may connect as such a powerful statement for our times. In an early scene, Bruce Wayne is confronted with the decision to behead a criminal in order to join ranks with the, uh, “shadowy” ninjas known as the “League of Shadows.” Eerily reminiscent of debates over war and torture going on in our country today, it sparks an ongoing, inspirational, and underlying theme—strive to be better than your enemies, not below or equal to them.

To that end, Bruce Wayne’s motivations are always clear, if not uncomfortably close, and psychology plays a big part in all of the characters. Fear, as usual, is the main ingredient in the Gotham City stew. And all those who dwell there get a taste.

In the script, Nolan covers new ground nicely by using methodical pragmatism whenever possible. We’re not just introduced to the bat cave. We understand how it came to be and why. This is a vastly different approach from the pure gut instinct of, say, I don’t know… some guy that comic book geeks call Frank Miller. But it’s surprisingly appealing. The sophistication he takes in making Batman plausible may even match the level of Burton’s artistic vision, thereby equalling the two.

Although for some reason the veterans of the cast (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman) get all the best lines, the acting in Batman Begins exceeds any other version to date. Christian Bale brings a presence that shows depth as Bruce Wayne, a confilicted and wounded persona that’s capable of manipulating and being manipulated.

Given the amount of interpretation over the years, from comic book, to campy television show, to graphic novel, to stylized cartoons, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the Batman mythos lives on so vibrantly and so soon after another successful vision.

But for his sake, and for the sake of confronting our own fear of doing the right thing, I’m glad it does.

culture, music

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Cold Roses

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cold RosesiconIf the buzz circulating around the much anticipated double album release of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals is to be believed, the prodigious grave-robber has made yet another deal with the devil, summoning the soul of Jerry Garcia for one last nine-minute hippie jam. At least, that’s what the local DJ’s had me believing. However, after listening to the entire Cold Roses dual disc well over four or five times now, I find that to be an overly general summarization of the music. Admittedly, there certainly is more honky tonk present than in the artist’s last three offerings. And I did take notice to the addition of the Cardinals, largely because the vocals are so downplayed. Ryan’s singing is so fast and loose on some tracks, it’s as if he purposely recorded each in one take. My first thought was that the singer, perhaps out of fatigue, attempted to drown himself out of the spotlight, prefering a more layered instrumentation instead.

As well, there’s a bit more free form to the general song structure. They’re not as tightly wound as they were in Rock-N-Roll nor Love is Hell Parts 1 and 2. But when all is told, a 19 song offering has no need for tightness. As if by design, there’s a running theme of flowers and birds (yes, the old pot-head standbys), which does seem to hold together a consistent lyrical imagery. Much more than that, though, the quota for heartache is met up nearly threefold.

Indeed, the soft tissue sentimentality that has become the songwriter’s bread and butter further solidifies the one thing that has been entirely consistent about him since his days alt-country rocking it up with Whiskeytown—he’s a hopeless romantic at heart. Forget everything you’ve ever heard about his similarity to any other artist. That’s fodder for critics with nothing new to add. The simple fact is that you can’t fully appreciate Ryan Adams without first being devastated in at least one long-term relationship. The Southern blues of Beautiful Sorta, the American folk of Let it Ride, and the heady loftiness of Easy Plateau may be the standout exceptions to that rule, but by and large the chest-wrenching exercises in pop melodrama have never run deeper. They realize a potential to win over any life-hardened listener.

Apropos of nothing else, it’s also rumored by the artist himself that the first track, Magnolia Mountain, is about a 70’s porn star of the same name. Well, my cursory Google search found nothing of any truth to that claim, leading me to believe that Ryan may not only know how to fake musical styles, he also knows how to fake good copy. Perhaps he left us a clue in the chorus.

lie to me
sing me a song
sing me a song until the morning comes
and if the morning don’t come, will you lie to me
will you take me to your bed
will you lay me down
till I’m heavy like the rocks in the riverbed
that my savior made

While there are some definite stylistic Dead grabbings here and there, the core of this album is still firmly planted in stories of unrequited love and the solemn ache for what could have been. Despite a minor and unexpected lack of polish, this should be a satisfying listen for legions of country folk and granola crunchers alike, who have yet to be enamored with his heart-felt yearnings.

I’ve found that the album is, in fact, much more enjoyable for all the wear—even if some listeners are now sporting burkenstocks.

culture, music

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The Best Little Secrets Are Kept

louis_xiv.png There wasn’t very much payoff for me when I spent the latter part of the 80’s and early 90’s listening to glam rock. In hindsight, building a fairly lengthy catalog of David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Marc Bolan on tape cassette twenty years after the original recordings were produced was probably no way to strike up conversations with guys in the gym or become instantly popular with girls in high school.

Sure, I know now.

But the music, with its funky-androgynous and raw-edgy flavor, unexplainably provided a sensible soundtrack for the particular kind of rebellion I was going through. Somehow I found that place deep down in my soul, or probably rather at the core of my lower brain functioning, where rock-n-roll lived—not to suddenly sound all Tenacious D or anything.

Anyway, I haven’t experienced that feeling in a long time and had all but given up hope of ever feeling it again. That is until I heard Louis XIV for the first time.

These guys take every notion of that era living in it’s own supposed time period and throw it out the window, along with the hotel TV set and whatever pieces of small furniture they’re capable of lifting. Just don’t expect them to express any regret when somebody gets flattened.

The self-titled first track from
The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
icon gets right to the task at hand, exploding the lid on that insidiously self-centered id with blasting guitars and a questionably healthy amount of male bravado.

well I’m a weapon of mass destruction
got no apologies for a hyper-concussion
i’m gonna swipe your identity
turn your love into an obscenity
when I want a fix
i make no apology

To hear it all culminate makes one remember what it was like for the first time, only to a certain extreme. Despite the obviousness, it all comes together rather admirably. Most of the time, it’s like Iggy Pop wrote the lyrics, Mick Ronson wrote the guitar riffs, and while I haven’t seen their stage presence, I expect they share a similarly fluffy wardrobe to the New York Dolls. After all, they did name themselves after the most flamboyant king in France’s history. This is a 70’s glitter rock tribute, for certain, but at least it’s the all-star version.

Louis XIV clearly wants to put some well-needed fun back in rock-n-roll. Their nearly over-the-top use of previous 70’s material is matched only by their apparent expression of wanton desire. They put a disclaimer on the subject early in the third track, Paper Doll, by stating the obvious, “if you want clean fun go fly a kite.” And with a heavy dose of lustful thoughts, they deliver on that promise throughout the rest of the album.

The shortest track in the collection, God Killed the Queen rips right on through as the clappiest punk song ever, while A Letter to Dominique does more to sound like T.Rex than any song recorded in decades. With its high-pitched background harmonies, fuzzy guitars, and choppy violins, it conjures more than just a little essence of Metal Guru.

The radiant libido of Hey Teacher hardly breaks new ground either, but it does reverberate back to a time when the perception of being naughty was a far more precious commodity. Continuing in that tradition, and borrowing still more from AC/DC, The Grand Apartment plays out as something of an ego trip party song that’s naturally about being the center of attention.

Something tells me these guys just write what they know.

So, after all this, my payoff for digging music that peaked long before my time was the ability to write a fascinating review of a now obscure band for absolutely no reason, all the while not receiving any kind of compensation for it.

For Louis XIV, though, it seems to be paying off in spades.

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