This morning at 3:10 A.M. I was awoken by the sound of my son singing/groaning, and I quickly realized that he was performing a startlingly faithful rendition of the repeating vocal sample used in the classic Arrested Development song “Mr. Wendal.” I went in and there he was, happily sitting up in his crib awake, continuing his homage to that great philosopher-hobo. It sounded exactly like this:
In our family, we also make it a practice to slightly modify the lyrics of “Mr. Wendal” to refer to one of Virginia’s heroes, Sister Wendy. Perhaps this is how the young lad has developed such a love for the song.
They don’t make them like this anymore. I came across this when I was a Mormon missionary, circa 2000. It was dubbed onto an old VHS I found in a ward meetinghouse library in Reynoldsburg, OH. I’ve never been able to find it again, but I recently was reminded of this movie and thought to check for it on online, and found it in seconds. Weird to realize that in 2000 there was no such thing as finding or streaming a video online; now you can find almost anything.
The church remade this movie in the 80s and I think they still distribute that version, but it fails to match the weirdness and mystery that you will see here. I love the surrealist/proto-psychedelic moments. To a 21st century father, the scenes of the birth and the babies in the hospital feel almost dystopic, but I guess that’s just how they did things back in the 1950s and 1960s in America. There’s many other priceless moments, such as the awkwardness and bad acting of the old moustached guy as he is welcomed into the afterlife by his various kindred dead.
Plus, as weird as it all is, I think it’s also true. I sometimes have a desire to be both ironic and sincere at the same time. At no time is that feeling more relevant than as I watch this film.
If an ice cream truck rolls up a residential street on a quiet Saturday Afternoon and no children run out to buy ice cream, it does still make a sound. And that sound is by turns nostalgic, melancholy, excruciatingly slow, and ultimately quite creepy. And now it’s stuck in my head.
Leave our kids alone, we’ve got all the ice cream we need around here.
I realize in retrospect that my last post, although it made perfect sense to me, may have been slightly confusing without some context.
It was in fact a record review of sorts of the album Rolling Blackouts by Brighton, UK band The Go! Team. However, I’m a little tired of/uninterested in writing traditional record reviews (see A Change in Focus), so instead I opted for a sort of extreme-reader-response criticism/fan fiction type of record review. I hope to do more such non-traditional record reviews in the future because they are a lot more fun for me than regular record reviews. Besides, you can find good regular reviews all over the place, so why do I need to bother with them, too?
I also would like to state for the record that Rolling Blackouts isn’t anything like my favorite album of 2011 or anything; it’s just a record I had a quick desire to write about in this method. I hope to add more “reviews” to the site, including those written about albums that actually are my most favorites, but we know I have a poor track record of providing steady content and publishing all the things I intend to publish. So, I still have to add this disclaimer about Rolling Blackouts in case I never getting around to posting about any other albums and in their absence it appears as if it is my ultimate all-time-favorite album because it’s the only one I’ve written and published about.
That is all. Thank you for your time. We now return to our regular Froz-T-Freez programming, still in progress.
A crew of high school cheerleaders find a vintage 1980s boombox underneath the bleachers, with a mixtape of old-school hip-hop auspiciously cued up in the deck. When one brave girl presses play, hoping it might be just what they need for their new routine, they are mystically transformed into The Go! Team, which is something like Charlie’s Angels and the A-Team put together, but even cooler; they vow to use their newfound powers to become great MCs and also save the school from lameness. To achieve their aims they join forces with the ‘60s pop-loving sophisticates of the rival school’s marching band, and together they conspire to hijack the big football game mid-play-mid-field with a guerrilla marching cheer block party. It was the best Homecoming ever, and also the best episode of Glee that I’ve never seen. Bethany “Best Coast” Consentino and Satomi “Deerhoof” Matsuzaki guest star.
I don’t care to speculate on whether this book deserves its Pulitzer or not because I’m far too out of the loop on adult literary fiction right now. What I’ll say is that it has the goods and I’ve enjoyed it more than any book I’ve read in a while.*
Some reasons I like this book:
I’m a music geek, and this book has plenty to offer there. From the imagining of the nascent late-70s Bay Area punk scene to one character’s catalog of the 12 best Rock & Roll Pauses, there’s a lot of fictional music goodness.
I love how each chapter can stand on its own as a short story (many of them were first published in magazines as short stories) but read together they gain so much resonance and context. Each one left me wanting more. There were tantalizing glimpses and hints of other stories that we didn’t get, and that sense of all these people’s lives progressing and weaving in and out of each others’ lives provided a great richness and realness to the whole fictional world.
For me it was fun to put the pieces together from the different stories, and to occasionally have to flip back to another spot in the book to double check a name or detail to figure out the connection. It was just the right amount of pleasant confusion for me. I would love to go back and read it again to find more nuances and connections. I guess I’m a literature geek too; after studying things like Joyce’s Ulysses, reading a book like this feels like an easy, playful romp of a read.
There was a rich and diverse array highly fallible but interesting characters, with whom in many cases I identified. The way they all reacted to the passing of time/aging/unforseen changes was fascinating to observe, and I think that this exploration of the various ways that people deal with life change is one of the more powerful themes of the book.
Yes there is a lot of talking about/mentioning of sex, which isn’t really what I look for out of a book, but on the other hand there was hardly anything in the way of sex “scenes,” which I actually found refreshing. It seems like many writers, (perhaps in some cases at the behest of editors?) feel they have to provide lurid or lasciviously detailed descriptions of sexual acts, and not just in adult but young adult fiction as well now. This book avoids that. The one actual sex scene that I remember from the book was definitely not pornographic in this sense, in that it did not seem alluring or lascivious in any way, it more served to show the selfishness and other follies of the characters, the pettiness and grotesqueness of the situation.
The ending is very hopeful, but not all of my questions get answered. Kind of just like real life.
The covers of both the hardcover and paperback editions look really good with my site’s style theme.
I could come up with more reasons I like it. It wouldn’t be hard. But I’ll stop my list here so we can get on with our lives.
[Note: this was written as a response to an acquaintance/co-worker’s comment on Goodreads asking why I had given 4 stars to this “horrid” book, to which she only gave 1 star.]
*I think I got burned out on reading a few months ago because I spent too much time reading “serious” middle-grade books that I wasn’t always that interested in, in an attempt to predict the Newbery winner. I forgot to read things just because I want to read them. This is the first book in a long time I had no other motive to read than that I simply wanted to read it.
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Written by Jennifer Egan
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Released June 8, 2010 http://jenniferegan.com/