Kiss Me Deadly (1955) a (Darkly) Belated Review

The other day I reviewed the film Sweetheart (2019) (you can read it here). I liked the film, but concluded:

(Sweatheart’s) a very good film, but not quite a great one.

There are many, many films that can be summed up like that. Films you enjoy, even recommend, that you nonetheless feel don’t quite go that extra mile, don’t have the extra “juice”, to make them an extraordinary feature.

That’s not the case with the film I’m reviewing here. The Robert Aldrich directed Kiss Me Deadly is an extraordinary feature, one that I would easily recommend to any fans of film noir or detectives or mystery.

Loosely based on the Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer novel of the same name, this movie, in my humble opinion, is a total home run, a searing, sleazy detective movie that presents an incredible story and an even more incredible conclusion, which I will get to in a moment.

The story: A lone woman runs desperately alongside a deserted highway at night, out of breath and clearly frightened. She sees a car’s lights in the distance and steps into the middle of the road, causing the car’s driver, Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker, in what is perhaps his all time best role), to hit the brakes and nearly crash while avoiding her.

Mike Hammer is pissed off. He drives a gaudy car, wears elegant clothing, but is a sleazy P.I. whose specialty is divorce cases. He uses his secretary, Velda to seduce those he is working against -and get incriminating information on them- and actor Maxine Cooper is another standout as the movie’s conscience, despite the sleazy things she does for her boss.

Before we get to her, Hammer reluctantly aids the stranded and terrified woman (played by Cloris Leachman in her screen debut) only to then have the two attacked and the woman tortured and murdered.

Hammer, not one for sentiment, realizes whatever the murder victim was involved in was big, and he intends to cash in on whatever it was.

Through the course of the movie, Hammer confronts many unsavory characters and has to deal with the law in the form of Lt. Pat Murphy (Wesley Addy, another standout).

When Lt. Murphy tells Hammer he’s in “over his head”, it may be a cliche line, but boy oh boy is it accurate.

I don’t want to get into too much more, but suffice it to say that Kiss Me Deadly is a must see, a film that in my opinion deserves its place among the very best film noir classics.

Oh, and if you recall the “glowing suitcase” from the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction and wondered what inspired that scene, look no further than Kiss Me Deadly.

Highly recommended.

Here’s my humble take on the film, which I originally presented here

Now then…

SPOILERS!!!!

PLEASE DON’T CONTINUE IF YOU PLAN TO SEE THE FILM!

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

So, as I said above, I wanted to talk a little about the end of the film, which I feel may be one of the most incredible movie endings ever made.

Here’s the thing, though: Which ending are we talking about?

Years ago, when the best quality home video you could buy was in the form of laserdiscs, I picked up a copy of Kiss Me Deadly on laserdisc.

I don’t believe I had seen the film before picking up the laserdisc, only that I knew the film was a cult classic (it wasn’t quite as well known as it is today, and this was before -I think!- Pulp Fiction’s reference to it which I mentioned above).

Anyway, the film was essentially intact except for the movie’s very ending.

Again, I’m going to get into SPOILERS here, so please think hard about continuing if you don’t want to be SPOILED about the film’s ending!

Kiss Me Deadly’s climax involves Mike Hammer returning to the bad guy’s ocean front home. There, he confronts Gabrielle (Gaby Rodgers, another standout performance as the “pixie femme fatale from hell”).

Hammer has finally realized he is indeed “over his head” in this, and all he wants is to save his secretary Velda, who has been kidnapped by the badguys.

Gabrielle shoots Hammer and then, her curiosity overwhelming, opens up the mysterious case everyone has been after. It contains radioactive material, and by opening it she is set afire.

Hammer, though shot, manages to get up and stumbles in the corridor outside the room where Gabrielle burns. He finds Velda and they head to the stairs at the end of the corridor leading out of the house…

…only to cut to the beach house which blows up, taking with it both Hammer and Velda.

An abrupt, but I felt incredible and daring way to end this whole sleazy affair, with Hammer and his beloved Velda victims of Hammer’s hubris.

Only…

…that’s not the ending that Robert Aldrich made. Check out this trailer, which was also included in that laserdisc I purchased:

Note that at the 2:00 mark of the trailer we are presented with the exploding house and another curious thing: Mike Hammer and Velda huddled together in the beach surf watching the house explode!

Strangely, at one point the ending of Kiss Me Deadly -but nothing else- was shortened and for many years people saw the film with the abbreviated ending of Hammer and Velda still in the house when it explodes.

Robert Aldrich, before he passed away in 1983, was asked about the movie’s ending and noted he had filmed Hammer and Velda stumbling out of the house, making their way through the sand and into the water, and watching the house go up in smoke from there and that this version was the version that he created and which was the “proper” version.

In fact, as interest in the film grew, a copy of the film was found in Mr. Aldrich’s vaults and it had that extended ending and today that is the ending you will find on video releases and I for one feel it works as well as the more abrupt version.

Either way, the extended version showing that Hammer and Velda didn’t immediately die in the explosion isn’t all that much more pleasant an ending because the explosion which takes out the beach home is a nuclear one. Sure, Hammer and Velda are still alive and watching the beach house go up in smoke but given the cause of this explosion they, and probably quite a bit of the west coast, are nonetheless doomed.

As I said before, incredible stuff.

Sweetheart (2019) a (Mildly) Belated Review

Sweetheart, released last year to home video to extremely good reviews from critics (95% positive by critics at Rottentomatoes!) versus a much cooler reception by audiences (52%, Rottentomatoes again), came on my radar around the time it was originally released and I’ve been curious to see it since. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

The movie is quite simple: Jenn (Kiersey Clemons, quite good) awakens on a beautiful island shore. She wears a life vest and realizes nearby is Brad (Benedict Samuel), a fellow castaway. He’s in bad shape, though. At some point his body slammed into coral and he’s got a piece of the jagged material sticking out of his stomach.

Soon, Brad dies (this all happens within the first few minutes of the film, so rest easy, I’m not spoiling much), and Jenn is left alone on the island.

She explores and assesses her situation and, come night, realizes the island is the hunting grounds for a fierce monster.

Will Jenn survive?

After seeing Sweetheart, I was curious to read some reviews and one of the more astute ones note the film is like a cross between Predator and Castaway.

Not a bad comparison, but the film’s DNA lies more distant than that, all the way to creature feature movies like the original Thing From Another World and The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

The movie is pretty bare bones, but I say this in a good way. There is very little fat and the plot moves forward. When all is said and done -and without spoiling too much- we have a total of four “speaking” roles but it is Jenn who takes up the majority of the screen time and she does make for an engaging hero, even if she may not be quite as resourceful and gutsy as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the Alien films.

However, once all was said and done I felt there were a couple of head-scratching moments in the film that bear scrutiny. I’ll get to them in a moment as they do relate to SPOILERS.

So… thumbs up or down?

I recommend the film but bear in mind along with the fact that this is a pretty straightforward film it also does not reinvent the wheel. It’s well done, at times very suspenseful and the main protagonist is engaging and worth rooting for but Sweetheart is not a terribly original or searing presentation.

It’s a very good film, but not quite a great one.

Now then…

SPOILERS!

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

Still there?

Hope you know what you’re doing…

Anyway, there were two things presented in Sweetheart -three if we count the movie’s title, which is explained in the course of the film but… come on! They could have come up with something more interesting, no?!- that bugged me.

The first one occurs when Jenn is attacked by the creature. She sustains a gash in her leg but that wound, magically, seems to disappear immediately afterwards and through to the end of the film. An odd thing, a very odd thing, to have happen in a film that seems to be otherwise very well thought out.

It makes me wonder if maybe they re-arranged certain scenes and her injury originally happened later in the story -like toward the very end- but was moved to earlier to create some sense of tension.

The second thing involves even more SPOILERS so, again, if you don’t want to be SPOILED…

All right then…

Through the course of the film Jenn encounters others who were in the ship she was in. Not many, granted, but she arrives with one survivor who dies quickly. She later finds the half-eaten body of another and then toward the later half of the film she sees a lifeboat and swims to it. She finds two people, a man and a woman, who have also survived the wreck.

Once they make it to shore, we realize they know each other. The man, Lucas (Emory Cohen), is her boyfriend and calls her “Sweetheart” (hence the movie’s title). Their relationship, we infer, was on the rocks even before the ship expedition. Both Brad and the woman, Mia (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), are elated to have reached shore but, understandably, have a hard time believing Jenn when she tells them a monster stalks the island.

This eventually leads to a confrontation between the two against Jenn, but before that Jenn borrows Lucas’ knife and notices blood on it.

Later on, when Jenn gets into the lifeboat, she notices bloodstains in it.

There is a clear implication that Lucas and Mia killed someone with that knife and did so in the lifeboat. My best guess is they killed the half-eaten man Jenn found before Lucas and Mia showed up.

It’s an interesting element, that Jenn may not only have to worry about the creature but also Lucas and Mia maybe being killers, but that element is shown -both with the blood stained knife and the blood within the lifeboat!- but absolutely nothing more is made of it.

As with Jenn’s wound, I wonder if maybe either they filmed more regarding this and ultimately discarded it or they had it in the script, filmed it, but decided to not bother with any further explanations.

For a film that is so razor sharp, though, its weird to have this dangling and ultimately unresolved plot element.

Weird stuff.

Re Imaginos (2020) a (Almost Right On Time!) Review

As I noted a while back (you can read it here) I was very interested in two “new” music releases on November 6th, David Bowie’s Metrobolist (I reviewed it here) and Albert Bouchard’s Re Imaginos.

I’ve already gone into the history of this later album, but I’ll nonetheless offer this brief recap: In the early 1980’s, the band Blue Oyster Cult, perhaps most famous nowadays for the song Don’t Fear the Reaper and its “cowbell”, were on the verge of breaking up.

Albert Bouchard, the band’s drummer (and the man responsible for the actual cowbell in Don’t Fear the Reaper!) at that time in the early-mid 1980’s took many songs throughout BOC’s history and created a demo for a concept album he called Imaginos.

Here’s that demo:

The album was shopped around to various companies but no one was interested in releasing it. A few years later, however, the album was reworked with the other members of the band -minus Albert Bouchard himself- as well as several session musicians and the album Imaginos, credited to BOC and not Albert Bouchard, was released in 1988…

imaginos LP - Amazon.com Music

Though I have no inside information on how the album came about, the fact that Albert Bouchard was not involved in a project he demoed suggested that maybe there was some bad feelings between the band and the drummer.

Many, many years passed and, this year, BOC released a new album and, lo and behold, in their first music video, who should pop up in it -and jokingly hitting a cowbell!- but Albert Bouchard?! (He first appears at the 1:07 mark)

Shortly afterwards, I heard that Albert Bouchard was releasing Re Imaginos, his version of the demo featured above…

Albert Bouchard - Re Imaginos CD – Merchbucket.com

My best guess is that whatever problems/anger they had between each other was resolved and, while Albert Bouchard hasn’t re-joined the band, his album was released.

So, what did I think about it?

I like the album but my main gripe remains: Albert Bouchard, to my ears, isn’t as good a singer as BOC’s Eric Bloom and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser. His voice isn’t bad, mind you, and in several songs the elderly/weary singing works very well, but in others it doesn’t do quite as well.

Just as an example, we now have three versions of what I consider the very best song BOC made, Astronomy. The original version was sung by Eric Bloom and is found on the 1974 BOC album Secret Treaties

Then there’s this version of the song, from 1988’s Imaginos, and sung by Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser…

Finally, this is Albert Bouchard’s version of the song from Re Imaginos (you can fast forward to the original demo version of the song above).

There are things I love in all three versions of the song but, if I’m being totally honest, I feel like the lesser version is Albert Bouchard’s from Re Imaginos. To be clear: I’m not saying its a terrible version of the song, but that the other versions for me are better.

That’s not to say, however, that all Bouchard’s versions of the songs are less than those which were released before!

This does bring me to the following: Nowadays, with so many music services available out there, you can cobble together a playlist of the various songs on Imaginos/Re Imaginos, making alternate “albums” which can feature classic BOC versions exclusively or a mix and match versions which features the original songs, songs from Imaginos, and songs from Re Imaginos.

If you’re interested in doing so!

As is, though, I recommend Re Imaginos to those who like the original demo and were curious to hear what Albert Bouchard originally intended with the Imaginos demo.

Interesting stuff!

POSTSCRIPT:

For the heck of it, here’s Metallica’s cover of Astronomy. It includes the lyrics!

Coronavirus Diaries 23

Another “lost” weekend, I suppose, of doing not all that much and hanging around the house.

We did go out to do some shopping, but that’s quick and done and over with well before noon. As always, we take great precautions, wearing masks and keeping our distance from others though, because of the early hour we go out, we generally don’t see too many others around us.

In the news, “President” Trump seems determined to ignore reality and the fact that he’s lost the election. I wonder -and that’s all I can do- if this might be related to other things, like a fear that once President-elect Biden’s people start looking in on what Trump has left them and/or done (but managed to hide from the public) during his four years might not just bite him, hard.

I wonder if maybe there’s a great effort going on by those in the Trump cabinet to clean up whatever they can, any sort of potentially uncomfortable or incriminating memos or emails, and that may be in part why Trump doesn’t want Biden’s team in.

I could be waaaaay off here, I admit, and the fact that Trump loathes being called a “loser” may have just as much to do with this as anything else.

Regardless, as many have expected, Trump seems determined to mess as much things up as he cans on his way out the door.

Over the weekend a bunch of Trumpistas showed up to march on Washington, stating they would have their own version of the “one million man” march but coming up rather short. Some 11,000 people showed up, no doubt the hardest core of the hardest core, including members of the Proud Boys. If you have no idea what they are, look ’em up and try not to feel sad that such a group feels embolden to march in the open.

There was, though, good news as well: Pfizer announced their vaccine was a little above 90% effective against COVID-19 and, this morning, we had even better news, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is reportedly 94.5% effective (you can read all about it in this article by Elizabeth Cohen and presented on CNN).

The bottom line is that despite the grind of these past months, starting toward the end of March, things are looking up for the future.

There is, according to Dr. Fauci, a real possibility that the vaccines -whether through Pfizer or Moderna or some other companies- will start to be released by December, first to the first responders and elderly, and then next year to the common citizens.

It’s going to be quite a task. It will likely require the military to mobilize and offer the vaccines to poorer neighborhoods without access to the “big” drug stores while others with access to these stores will likely be swamped with people looking for the vaccine.

And, to make matters a little more complicated, it appears the vaccine requires two separate injections, so it will take a bit to get those who want to be vaccinated (yeah, I suppose the “anti-vaxers” will be protesting).

Boy, the problems the spread of misinformation causes nowadays.

Anyway, I’m optimistic nonetheless that at this time next year we may, just may, be looking in the rear-view mirror at the COVID-19 situation.

Dr. Fauci himself noted that by April we might just be back to normal.

Man, I hope so.

Metrobolist aka The Man Who Sold The World (2020 Remix): A (Almost On Time) Review

The Man Who Sold the World, now renamed -as it was originally meant to be- for Tony Visconti’s Remix Metrobolist, is what I consider the first “real” David Bowie album start to end.

David Bowie - Metrobolist (aka The Man Who Sold The World) - Amazon.com  Music

I have nothing against David Bowie (his first album) or Space Oddity (his second album and which had some great songs, including his first big hit!), but this, his third album, seemed, to me where David Bowie first sets his course.

Back in 2015 the album was remastered and, I felt, that remastering was damn good. However, when I heard longtime David Bowie producer Tony Visconti was coming in to do a new mix of the album, I was curious. I generally liked his remix of Lodger and was really impressed with his remix of the song Space Oddity, so I was hoping for the best.

As it turned out, some songs have clear differences from the 2015 remaster. All The Madmen includes some nonsense lyrics toward the end which were cut out of the original. Running Gun Blues changes the sounds of the explosions. These changes are interesting but don’t necessarily improve upon the original releases/remaster.

Alas, a third song which featured noticeable changes was the one the album was eventually named after, The Man Who Sold The World. Here, Mr. Visconti adds reverb/echoes which, frankly, I didn’t like all that much and felt was unnecessary. My preference for that song, therefore, remains with the 2015 remastered version.

Other songs like The Width of a Circle, Savior Machine, She Shook Me Cold, and The Supermen feature very minor changes, at least those I could spot/hear.

Overall, the album remains damn good -and worthy of five stars, IMHO- though I don’t feel there’s enough difference in this Visconti remix to justify buying it again or putting it above the 2015 version.

I suppose in that respect I must conclude the exercise is a bit of a disappointment.

Truthfully, I probably would have been more outraged had Mr. Visconti changed all the songs significantly versus the three or so that have very noticeable changes. The clarity within the songs remains quite good but then again the 2015 remastering did a pretty good job of that as well.

So take my review for what it is: Its nice to have this alternate version of the album and I’m glad they put the original name and graphics on it. But the changes to the overall work simply aren’t that major. If you have the 2015 version, there’s not that much incentive for you to get this remix.

Black Moon Rising (1986) a (Very) Belated Review

There’s a few bits of film trivia that really intrigue me, and several of them involve writer/director John Carpenter.

The first one is probably the juiciest, though it has nothing to do with the film I’m about to review: While John Wayne’s final film The Shootist (1976) is considered a beautiful wrap up to his career, Mr. Wayne actually set his sights on a follow up film. That film, Blood River, was written by a very young John Carpenter and Mr. Wayne intended to bring along Ron Howard (who was in The Shootist) to co-star with him in it. Mr. Wayne would pass away from cancer before the film was made, though and, years later and in 1991, Blood River was released as a TV movie starring Wilford Brimley and Ricky Schroder in the roles which were intended for Wayne and Howard.

The second bit of trivia, which does relate to this movie: Tommy Lee Jones has starred in two films written by John Carpenter but has not appeared in any John Carpenter directed films.

The first film is the 1978 Irvin Kirschner directed The Eyes of Laura Mars -the film he directed before directing The Empire Strikes Back!- and the second is the one I’m reviewing here today: 1986’s Black Moon Rising.

Here’s the movie’s trailer

Featuring Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, and Lee Ving (!), Black Moon Rising plays out very similarly, plot-wise, to of all things Escape From New York!

How? Welp, Tommy Lee Jones playing Quint, a thief who is hired by the government to break into a tech firm and steal a computer tape (this was the 1980’s) with their financial improprieties on it. He has a tight deadline to produce this tape to them, and has to deal with all kinds of difficulties -including a thief (Lee Ving) who the company hired to take Jones’ character out and retrieve the incriminating evidence.

Quint gets a hold of the tape but pursuit is hot and heavy after him. He manages to hide the tape in a super-high tech car called the Black Moon, but before he can retrieve it, the car, along with many others, is stolen by a high tech car thief ring. Among the thieves is Linda Hamilton’s Nina, who is only a couple of years removed from her classic role in The Terminator and looks almost exactly the same!

There’s romance, of course, along with a pair of hissable villains, but the reality is that the film makes very little sense and, if you think about those things, you may find yourself not liking what you see.

The tape the government needs for their court case, it struck me right away, would get tossed from any trial if the government couldn’t state how they got it, and I seriously doubt they’d admit to hiring a thief to steal it from them!

Later in the film, a character is murdered and no one calls the police or makes a report… the murder of this innocent person is pretty much used as incentive by his friends to work with Quint but otherwise, forgotten!

Robert Vaughn is good as the steely and evil head of the car theft ring, but given the fact that he owns what appears to be two skyscrapers, one wonders if a car theft ring could make that much money… even if they were the best out there.

These are but some of the things that one has to accept if one were to come away liking the film or, conversely, cannot swallow and therefore wind up walking out not liking the film.

For me, the problems were pretty clear yet the film has enough swagger provided by Tommy Lee Jones in what is a similar to (but not close to identical) Snake Plisskin-type of role, that of the loner thief who is hired to do something good. Quint isn’t the anarchist Plisskin was, but he does at times show a similar attitude, though Jones makes him a little less mythic. Linda Hamilton, similarly, is quite good as the car thief come love interest, though none of the characters in the end are given an incredibly large amount of depth.

Perhaps most intriguing of it all is that the car, the “Black Moon” doesn’t take up huge amounts of screen time, as one might have expected it to. It shows up and is the goal -because of what’s hidden inside it- but the film’s makers wisely don’t flood the movie with shots of the super-car doing super-car stuff, instead showing the way Quint slowly works his way to getting the car back.

Black Moon Rising isn’t some lost classic of the 1980’s. It’s an at times cheesy bit of popcorn filmmaking which, as I have stated over and over again regarding “older” films, may play too slow with modern audiences who are by now expecting a far quicker pace to their action films.

Yet there is enough within Black Moon Rising to offer enjoyment, especially if you are a John Carpenter fan. I don’t know how much of his original script ultimately made it to the screen, but the main plot, character, and antagonist sure do play out like other Carpenter works, and if you’re a fan of John Carpenter, you may want to check it out for that reason alone.

For the rest of you, its a decent film -provided the problems I outlines above don’t ruin it for you- that’s enjoyable enough especially if you long to see a young Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton.

Recommended.

COronavirus Diary 22

Wow, some weekend.

First up, on Saturday, the networks finally give the Presidential election to Joe Biden and, then on Sunday, it becomes clear we have to deal with Tropical Storm Eta.

I was aware she was around, having ravaged Central America earlier in the week as a very powerful Hurricane.

However, the fact that it was projected to go very close -even possibly over us- came abruptly. So abruptly I didn’t have the time to take down the car canopy our home has.

The canopy was there when we bought the house over 20 years ago and we’ve replaced it some two or three times since. Thing is, the metal which holds it up is pretty rusted now and I’ve been thinking of replacing the whole thing in the last year.

If the canopy is removed, the frame itself will easily survive a hurricane, much less a tropical storm, because the metal frame doesn’t catch air. However, with the canopy on, it can act as a parachute and, given the weak frame, my fear was that the whole thing would get ripped up and out of the ground.

But I couldn’t take it down. Even when I knew the storm would close in on us, we had plenty of rain and I realized I’d have to take my car out of the carport area because if indeed the carport folds or gets torn out of the ground, last thing I wanted was for the metal frame to mess up my or my wife’s cars.

This morning, I was happy to see that the canopy survived, though one of the metal posts lifted from the ground.

Yeah, its looking like I’m gonna have to spend some money on a new canopy after all.

Even with all this happening, the buzz I feel for Biden’s election hasn’t lifted. I remain incredibly happy about the election results -though I’d be lying if I said that I’m not depressed by the number of people who, despite all that Trump did, still felt he was a viable choice for re-election.

Worse -and expected- Trump has yet to concede the election and some of his sycophants (the increasingly unhinged Rudy Guliani in particular) are talking about lawsuits and finding all this imaginary fraudulent votes and… sheesh.

There have been some news analysists who worry what Trump will do on the final days of his presidency, if he will try to “break” as much as he can on the way out the door.

I hope he doesn’t, but one never knows.

Hope everyone else out there had a decent weekend!

And so it ends… and begins

Was watching the news this morning figuring that, since Joe Biden wasn’t formally declared the winner of the 2020 Presidential race yesterday, they had to do it this morning, right?

Over on MSNBC, I suspect they were thinking the same because they had their Morning Joe crew in for a Saturday session -they are usually on from Monday to Friday- and they remained there for the entire morning even though they usually end their show by 9:00 am.

By 12 noon practically on the dot, statistical whiz Steve Kornaki (I really, really hope he’s getting some much needed sleep at this hour!) reported that a new batch of results came in which bumped Biden’s lead over Trump in Pennsylvania over 30,000 votes and, literally the very next moment…

The BBC quickly called the election for Biden and, soon after, so too did CNN.

It was finally done.

In the hours since Pennsylvania put Biden “over the top”, Nevada has been declared as well for Biden, bringing his total electoral college number to 279 (270 was needed), which excludes Arizona and Georgia.

In Georgia, Biden has the lead by just north of 7000 votes and may well take that state. As for Arizona, it was declared early on for Biden by the Associated Press and (of all stations) Fox but there is some hesitancy by others to declare it a Biden win even though at the moment he has a little more than 20,000 vote advantage. The reason being is that there is at least a statistical possibility Trump might gain enough of the remaining votes to tie or go up on Biden in the state.

Not that it matters.

Regardless, the two remaining undeclared states, North Carolina and Alaska. are currently trending toward Trump and likely will be won by him.

If Biden does take Arizona, he will have earned 306 electoral college votes, wildly enough this is the same number of EC votes that Trump had when he won back in 2016.

Once Biden was finally declared the winner, I felt an overwhelming sense of… relief.

While I know there are too many things going on in the world for a Biden win to change things overnight for the better, I truly feared we couldn’t survive another four years of Trump’s craziness. It seems like every day we had another story which made me shake my head and wonder how anyone could support him and his… uh… governance and its corruption, lies, and belligerence.

To those that supported Trump, I’m not the type to wallow in your pain or rub it in even as I did see plenty of insults hurled from them in the direction of the “other side”.

Trump’s whole act was to build an “us versus them” mentality among his people and, frankly, it was a disgusting display but not a unique one. Trump, sadly, is the result of too many years of right wing media bashing the other side over and over again and cultivating an audience of people who fear the “other” rather than, you know, look into their ideas and realize they might not be so abhorrent as they have been led to believe they are.

I’ve written this before and I’ll reiterate it here: I’ve experienced just about every type of government in one way or another through my lifetime.

I was born behind the communist iron curtain and my parents, with at the time two kids in tow, fled that oppressive regime. We lived in Canada for a while, what could be described as a “socialist” country, before moving to and living in Venezuela in the mid-1970’s and into the early 1980’s. While today Venezuela is a left wing dictatorship, back then it was very much a right winger’s wet dream, a country with almost no regulation, taxes, and Catholic ideology. When that went bad, they moved in the complete opposite side.

Finally, I settled in the United States and I felt for a long while it was the best of all worlds.

But over the last few years, the rise of this right wing propaganda machine has worried me.

Perhaps the fever finally breaks, but it won’t be easy.

Trump has not conceded the election nor do I expect him to anytime soon. He will sick his lawyers on the electoral process and, though it seems a waste of time, it is his right as a citizen to do so.

What I’m most curious about is how the Republicans react now that they know Trump is on his way out. As the saying goes, do the rats abandon the ship now, finally? Or do they still cover for him while he surely tries to hold onto the power which will soon be gone?

As I said above, this represents an end and a beginning.

We’ll see where things go from here.

Friday New Releases…

Finally, a chance to move away from politics!

Today is a pretty big day, at least for me, with two “new” musical releases I’ve been anticipating:

David Bowie’s Metrobolist and Albert Bouchard’s Re Imaginos. (You can read my original post regarding these then upcoming releases here)

David Bowie’s Metrobolist is, in actuality, a Tony Visconti (longtime Bowie producer) remastered version of what I consider David Bowie’s first “real” David Bowie album, The Man Who Sold The World.

David Bowie - Metrobolist (aka The Man Who Sold The World) - Amazon.com  Music

I was very interested in hearing this new version of the album because, of Bowie’s major works, this one didn’t have the greatest mastering, I felt.

However, in 2015 the album was remastered and, I felt, it sounded pretty good. Still, I was curious to hear what Tony Visconti would do with the album. He’s a damn good producer, in my humble opinion, and I loved his last year remastering of Bowie’s first big hit, the song Space Oddity, and felt his remastering of the album Lodger was also quite good.

So I just listened to the album for the first time and…

I think there are some improvements here, but I’ve got to give the full album a couple of more listens to see if it’s as good as the 2015 version. In one place, though, I think Mr. Visconti came short: His remastering of the song The Man Who Sold The World is ok, but I like the original version without the reverb more.

The rest of the album passed ok upon the first listen. I didn’t detect much of a difference in the 2015 versus 2020 Visconti version of Width of a Circle though there was plenty of interesting new stuff in Running Gun Blues, from the sound of the gunfire/bombs to Bowie singing some additional stuff (hope my memory of this is right, only one listen!) at the tail end of the song.

Interesting stuff, for sure, but at least after one listen I can’t say this version has wowed me to the point where I feel this is now THE definitive version of the album.

It’s nice, but its not that different and/or incredibly superior to the 2015 version.

The second release is ex-Blue Oyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard’s release of Re Imaginos. Again, you can get the full story of what transpired with this album in my original post linked to above (and here!) but, basically, ex-Blue Oyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard created a concept album using several Blue Oyster Cult songs from their earlier albums in the early 1980’s when it seemed the band was for all intents and purposes broken up and produced an intriguing demo he called Imaginos.

The album was shopped around but the studios didn’t take it. By the mid-80’s they got the other members of the band together -without Albert Bouchard- and reworked the album and released that version of Imaginos in 1988.

imaginos LP - Amazon.com Music

My understanding is that this didn’t sit terribly well with Mr. Bouchard but the album was nonetheless, IMHO, a very strong one.

Still, it seemed Mr. Bouchard wanted to do his version of the album and, after all these years, perhaps he and the remaining members of Blue Oyster Cult settled their differences and Albert Bouchard today released Re Imaginos, his version of that album…

Albert Bouchard - Re Imaginos CD – Merchbucket.com

I’m currently listening to it and generally enjoying what I’m hearing but I have to say one thing… Mr. Bouchard’s singing voice is simply not as strong as that of BOC regular vocalists Eric Bloom and Donald Brian Roeser aka Buck Dharma.

Still, its pretty interesting/good so far. I’m liking it.

More to come when I listen to both more thoroughly.

It Would Appear The Proverbial Fat Lady Is Stepping Onto The Stage…

As I type this at a little past 9:00 am on the morning of Friday the 6th of November, a full three days following Tuesday’s election, there have been two major developments in the counting of the various outstanding mail in ballots throughout the country:

First, Joe Biden has taken the lead over Donald Trump in -shockingly!- Georgia. Second, and just happening a few minutes ago, Joe Biden has taken the lead over Donald Trump in -more expected- Pennsylvania.

Both margins are, at the moment, rather small, amounting to a little over 1000 votes in Georgia and over 5000 votes in Pennsylvania. The Georgia figure will likely wind up remaining in and around that area as 99% of the votes have been counted. Biden may gain a little more but GA will likely wind up being a state with a very narrow margin of victory, likely for Biden.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, still has some 5% of the votes -mail in votes- to come in, estimated to be over 100,000 to go, and they have been trending strongly toward Biden by a margin between 70-80%.

Already comments made on the news networks indicate that if this trend continues -and there is so far no evidence at all to expect it won’t- Biden will have won Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral college votes.

So, with a win in PA, if we are to take Biden’s current EC total (even removing Arizona which, though declared for Biden by NPR and Fox has mail in/outstanding votes which may be trending more toward Trump than originally anticipated, though maybe not enough to get him in the lead), Biden will have his 253 electoral college votes given a 20 EC boost which will put him at… 273.

The magic number to win, of course, is 270.

If, as it seems to be, Biden wins Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, he will acquire an additional 11, 6, and 16 EC votes which may make his final total 306.

Again, though, if things go completely sideways for Biden and he loses the above three states, if he wins Pennsylvania that’s the ball game…

…and it would appear the ballgame is done.

If indeed the networks declare Biden the victor today at some point (I’m guessing around noon, but we’ll see), the next question will be what will Trump do.

There are reports he will not concede and, perhaps its wishful thinking on my part, even his biggest fans might begin to realize its time for him to face reality and his loss.

Maybe if he prolongs this with pointless lawsuits, they may even come to see the childishness within him.

Who knows.

I’m probably being too optimistic, but I’ve always tried to look on the bright side of life…

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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