Since I already had the 1986 Saga scheduled all week, I didn’t want to schedule a formal live stream for this weekend like I usually do. Instead I decided to just wing it and go live whenever I felt like it. Streaming periodically through the day like this, we had almost 3 hours of jibber jabber!
This week’s major feature: The “Nigel Tufnel Top Ten” KISS albums list! Special guest star: Uncle Meat.
A year ago we did a massive de-clutter. We had gotten to the point where we accumulated too much stuff. Especially after Jen’s mom passed away. We probably kept too much of her stuff out of sentiment. But in a very short period of time we made massive purge; a painful purge. And it wasn’t the first. As you go through life you get rid of things. You can’t carry all your possessions with you through your whole life.
Although I have forgotten many of the myriad DVDs, books, T-shirts and collectibles that I tossed to the curb, there are some that I now regret losing. Doner’s regret is a very real thing. Some decisions were made in haste and others were made without sufficient foresight.
I used to record all of my CDs and LPs to cassette so that I could play them in the car. Once I had a car CD player, I didn’t need to keep doing that. Eventually I decided to give away all my excess cassettes and that’s how they ended up in a Thunder Bay landfill. I only regret giving away a small handful of my tapes. I wish I had hung onto some of the more obscure ones, and anything that I made cool artwork for. I guess I didn’t imagine that one day people would want to look at photos of old cassettes and read reviews of them.
In years past, any time I have done a major de-cluttering, I’ve thrown a massive garage sale. Sorting through and pricing items gives you some time to process what you’re doing, and make final decisions. It’s an ideal way of getting rid of stuff. But even so, I have made mistakes that I regret now. My childhood rock magazine collection — what I would give to have some of those issues again. They would come in handy with what I’m doing now. I had just about every issue of Hit Parader from 1987 through to 1990. From there I moved on to RIP, Metal Edge and the various guitar magazines available. When I purged my magazines, I hung onto just a small handful, but knowing they were irreplaceable, I kept all my M.E.A.T. Thank God I did! I’d never be able to replace them all if I hadn’t, and those things have been invaluable research sources. At least I know my magazines went to a good home. My old friend Len came to the garage sale and took every one. I know he is someone who would appreciate them for what they are.
I got rid of the magazines when I got married. I had to make space for my awesome new wife and her boxes and boxes full of clothes! Around the same time, I passed all my old Star Wars toys down to my sister Kathryn. Again, I have no regrets. They went to the right person to care for them. I admit I do get a nostalgic craving to hold my Han Solo one more time, but I think that could be arranged if necessary.
More recently, I’m kicking myself for giving away all my Star Trek DVDs. All the movies (I had the double DVD collector sets), and all the seasons of the Original Series. The entire “Fan Collective” series, which were so good. Gone in one trip to the Goodwill store. Decision made far too quickly and I’ve been regretting it ever since. Why donate instead of sell? Because we were trying to do this very quickly. Hiring an organizer is expensive. Getting a couple bucks per disc wasn’t worth trying to hawk them all. I put them in a huge bag, dropped them off at Goodwill and tried to feel good about the regained space.
Don’t get me wrong — I needed the space. But my purge went too far.
So now I have to re-buy all the Trek movies. I can do without the series as they are all on Netflix, but I need the films back. I don’t know what to buy: blu-ray, DVD, whatever has the best content? This would have been simpler had I just kept them all. A couple weeks ago I re-bought an old Star Wars comic that I somehow lost. It must have left the house accidentally jammed between something else because I never would have gotten rid of issue #47, “Droid World”. It’s the only issue that means anything to me and the only one I want to have. I used to try and draw all the different robots inside over and over again. Cost me $5 to replace, but oh well. Never should have left the house.
At least I didn’t let a single CD go. That organiser tried, oh did she ever try.
“So what are we doing with these?” she asked about the three CD towers and numerous mountains of dics in my workspace.
“These are all staying.” I replied bluntly. “These are my life and they are non-negotiable.”
“You know that you can put all of this on a computer now and not have to worry about storing all of these? I mean when can you listen to all of this?”
The same questions everybody asks. Everybody who’s not a music fan that is.
“I’m putting them on my computer all the time. That’s what this setup is for. But I collect CDs, some of these are irreplaceable. I love them all. I could tell you where I got almost every single one. I read the notes inside. I look at the artwork.”
Trying to explain it was like talking to a wall. “But all that stuff is online!” She was begging me to reconsider but guess what. I still have all my CDs.
Still trying to work on a decent storage layout, but I’m not a carpenter. I can barely hammer a nail. I need people to help with stuff like that. It’ll happen one day. But the discs. aren’t. leaving. And just on a logistical level, I need to have my music backed up to a hard copy like CD anyway just in case something happened to my 2-terrabyte digital library!
I would never recommend hiring a professional organiser to any of my music fans. They won’t understand your needs and you could end up making mistakes. Don’t make the same ones I did, but do stick to your guns when it comes to your albums!
“Look outside. Is the world more peaceful since the revolution? I see nothing but death and chaos.” — The Client
THE MANDALORIAN(2019 Disney+ series)
2019 might have been the biggest year ever in the history of the Star Wars franchise. Not only did the original Saga finally come to an end after 42 years of wondering if it would ever happen, but even the very first Star Wars live action TV series came to be. This comes a full 15 years after its aborted predecessor, Star Wars Underworld was announced. Headed up by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian Season One was a commercial and critical success.
But was it as good as its hype?
Pedro Pascal headlines as the mysterious Mandalorian, a bounty hunter trying to make ends meet about five years after the battle of Endor. The New Republic rules the roost and times are lean, but the Empire is not gone. Not yet. The Imperial Client (Werner Herzog) needs a very important asset. The Client leads a run down, rag-tag Imperial force in hiding on a backwater world. Via Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), the Client acquires Mando’s services. Deliver the package alive, but dead will suffice if necessary. Bounty hunting, after all, is a complicated profession.
Today in 2020, the entire world knows what came as a tremendous surprise back when the pilot episode first aired. There are no spoilers. The asset, though claimed to be 50 years old, is just a child. An alien child with a familiar green hue and large, pointed ears. The internet quickly dubbed it “Baby Yoda”.
Through the course of eight episodes, we learn that Mandalorians are almost extinct, “purged” by the Empire like the Jedi were. Those remaining live in secret. We also discover that the Child the Empire wants so badly can use the Force; powerfully so. Instinctively with no training. The implication here is that Yoda’s species are uniquely strong in the Force. The only other members of the species that we have seen were on the Jedi council. The Child can do things that only one Jedi in the entire history of the Saga (Rey) has been shown to do. What isn’t clear is what the Empire wants with the Child. The Client is just as happy if it ends up dead. Dr. Pershing, a scientist under his protection with cloning insignia on his uniform, clearly wants it alive.
The Mandalorian is not the average bounty hunter. Though hard on the outside, he has a soft spot for “foundlings” (orphans), since he was orphaned by a droid army during the Clone Wars. This also left him with a strong distrust for droids.
Mando’s quest takes him, in his gleaming pre-Empire ship the Razor Crest, all the way to planet Nostalgia in the Fan Service sector. Every alien species and reference from Saga and spin-off films will await you. The animated series are likewise plundered for references and threads to pull. Don’t ask yourself how the scavenging Jawas managed to spread through the galaxy, ask how they brought a sandcrawler with them. Also ask how the Mandalorian, who lived through both the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War, has never heard of anything resembling the Force in his life. Not impossible, true, not impossible. But certainly unlikely?
To the show’s strength, Mando surrounds himself with allies including the wise Ugnaught Kuill (Nick Nolte) and the former Rebel shock trooper Cara Dune (Gina Carano). He even reluctantly forms an alliance with bounty hunter droid IG-11 (Taika Waititi). Each one of these bring out another aspect of Mando’s disguised personality.
Unfortunately, the show’s weaknesses are apparent by the second episode. It lacks a consistent tone and even the soundtrack is all over the board. Mando’s path is too twisted by side missions and quests, like a video game biding its time before you’re back to your main story. A few episodes play out like actual video games, particularly the sixth. Some such as the fourth suffer from substandard acting and poor direction (which came as a surprise, being directed by Bryce Dallas Howard). While there is nothing low-budget about the Mandalorian, some of the performances are pretty cut-rate.
The meandering season finally returns to form when Mando and the Child encounter the Imperials once again. And guess what — they’re not as poorly equipped as we were led to believe. Giancarlo Esposito, who was unforgettable on Breaking Bad as drug kingpin Gus Fring, menaces our heroes one more time as Moff Gideon. With a squadron of crack Imperial Death Troopers and a custom TIE Fighter, Moff Gideon is willing to sacrifice his own men to get the Child back.
The show is a hit. “This is the way” is a phrase that has entered our modern lexicon, along with “I have spoken” and “I can bring you in warm or I can bring you in cold.” To say that season one was successful is an understatement. Season two is already locked and loaded, bringing in Rosario Dawson to the fold playing former Jedi Ahsoka Tano. She will likely be the first protagonist on the show to understand who the Child is and what Moff Gideon wants it for.
Hopefully season two will cut down on the obvious fan service. (Did Bill Burr really have to do a Gungan impression in episode six?) With one season down, we look forward to a tighter story with fewer episodes where nothing really happens. And we certainly anticipate what Pedro Pascal will bring to the role next time. His performance, limited to voice and body language, was without flaw. The set must have been electric any time he was together with Werner Herzog.
Episode highlights of the season: four out of of eight great episodes.
1. “The Mandalorian” directed by Dave Filoni
3. “The Sin” by Deborah Chow
7. “The Reckoning” by Deborah Chow
8. “Redemption” by Taika Waititi
The rest don’t bring much to the story and can be skipped with little lost except most of the fan service.
STAR WARS: The Rise of Skywalker original motion picture soundtrack (2019 Lucasfilm/Disney)
Music by JOHN WILLIAMS
There are very few film series with soundtracks that can do what The Rise of Skywalker does. John Williams has now built up such an expansive list of familiar themes, that it takes just one note to anticipate which one is coming next. Whether it be Leia’s, Rey’s, or Emperor Palpatine’s himself, The Rise of Skywalker is loaded with music you already hold deep in your heart.
Let us all be grateful that John Williams scored the complete nine-movie saga. If inconsistent writers and directors make the series as a whole a bumpy ride, then John Williams’ steady hand is the glue that holds it all together. Something like the movie itself, the soundtrack to The Rise of Skywalker attempts to conclude more than just a trilogy, but the Skywalker Saga. In the liner notes, Williams says that he hopes the nine movie scores will be seen as a “singular, organic whole”. Because of his consistent but always evolving vision, this is exactly what has happened. The Rise of Skywalker is the finale.
Rey’s theme, as heard in “The Force is With You”, stands out as the strongest of the sequel trilogy. What is interesting about that is how different it is from previous Star Wars motifs. It is light and delicate, but part of the new universe. It is difficult not to get emotional when you hear everything coming together in the end. There are surprises and an ample number of weighty moments. Of course, there are also new things to enjoy, and old things put together in new ways.
I like that the people who designed the packaging avoided the boneheaded spoilers of the past by putting the track listing inside. It’s unfortunate this final trilogy had the most boring cover art of the entire saga, but be forewarned: a deluxe Rise of Skywalker soundtrack has been announced for March. We can hope for a better sleeve on that edition.
John Williams has been an integral part of Star Wars since the beginning, and this time he was rewarded with [SPOILER] his very first cameo on screen. The circle is truly now complete. This thoroughly enjoyable score should be universally beloved even if the film is not.
GETTING MORE TALE #805(.5): LeBrain’s Top List of 2019 n’ More
Preamble: The Year in Review (and Reviewing)
2019 was the seventh year of life for this site, and we do thank you for that! Getting tired with the same old way of doing things, I became bored. The solution was throwing some new content into the mix and seeing what happened!
The first thing I planned was an informal new series called Just Listening. Though people confused these writings with reviews, it’s essentially just my thoughts as I listened to an album. Sometimes I would revisit an old record I already reviewed and see if I felt any different. There were 10 instalments of Just Listening in 2019. I intend to continue doing this, as sometimes I just have a few ideas to jot down after playing an album. Reviews will remain as in-depth and intense as you’ve come to expect. I love writing reviews, and there are a few lined up for early January that I hope you’ll enjoy too. At the same time, it’s increasingly important for me to just listen to music. My collection has dusty corners that miss my attention.
Second, in 2019 I bought a bunch of new tech. Why not, right? It’s kind of funny. I grew up in the 70s and 80s; back when you debated for months or years over in which home video system to invest . Tech is far more disposable today. The worst thing that can happen is a relatively painless, postage-paid Amazon return.
So a waterproof camera was added to my arsenal. This enabled me to make a bunch of cool videos this past summer, including what I think is the best Sausagefest video yet. One of the immense joys of that summer gathering is the fresh, cool water of the Beaver river. For the first time this was captured for you up close and personal.
It’s easy to sit here tootin’ my own horn but I feel the 2019 video gets you closer to the feeling of actually attending a Sausagefest yourself. You can imagine sitting in the river with us, drinking or smoking whatever you fancy.
A new dashcam enabled me to start another video “series” called Dashcam Idiots. I honestly thought, living in Kitchener Ontario, that I’d have a lot more content to post by now. (I did get a cool late-night video of a deer on a country road that I thankfully didn’t hit.) I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have a multitude of dashcam videos to upload.
The biggest and most important new series was a long time wish of mine: my VHS Archives.
The new tech this time was a cheap USB video capture device. This enabled me, after many years of promises, to share my personal Pepsi Power Hour videos with you from the late 80s and early 90s. It has been a culmination of a decades-long dream: taking this rather large VHS library and getting the rarest and most valuable content online. As of writing this, I’m 82 instalments deep.
And because this is supposed to be a list of lists, here are what I consider to be the Top Five Best/Most Significant of the 2019 VHS Archives. You’d be remiss not to play these.
1. Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.) interviewed by Erica Ehm – 1989
The best interview with Blackie that I’ve ever seen.
2.Bruce Dickinson and Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) interviewed by Erica Ehm – 1988
3.Bruce Kuclick and Gene Simmons (Kiss) interviewed by MuchMusic – 1992
Reposted by Bruce!
4.Rik Emmett of Triumph co-hosting the Pepsi Power Hour with Erica Ehm including two musical performances – 1988
5.MuchMusic Hear N’ Aid special featuring Ronnie James Dio (1986)
There’s lots left on these tapes so the VHS Archives will continue into 2020! I’ve left some “big guns” in reserve for future posts. As long as none of these tapes break! One or two of them are in very, very rough shape now. Others are still pristine.
Want a taste of what’s still to come? Here’s a preview.
Which of these interviews would you like to see first? Vote below!
The Movies I Saw: Don’t expect a comprehensive list!
1.The Avengers: Endgame
2.Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
5.Spider-Man: Far From Home
Nothing but sequels and spinoffs!
Top TV Shows of 2019: I don’t watch a lot of shows.
1.Stranger Things 3
2.Star Trek: Discovery season 2
3.American Dad! season 16
4.Rick and Morty season 4 (part one)
5.The Mandalorianseason 1
I’ve been talking The Mandalorian on social media quite a bit, and I’ve been quite critical of the show. It’s #5 by default.
The new Tom Keifer Band is really remarkable. With soul, roots n’ blues yet also a foot in classic Cinderella rock. The heart of the Keifer Band made it an easy #1. Whitesnake put out a strong effort; probably their best since Slip of the Tongue or even 1987. Marillion may have re-recorded old songs with an orchestra, but in doing so it’s possible that they have recorded the definitive versions. Tool is Tool is Tool is Tool. And Jim Crean deserves a shout-out for his guest-laden original album The London Fog, better than a lot of well known releases in 2019.
The Darkness – Easter is Cancelled
I have not been able to wrap my head around this album. I’ve steadfastly stood by this band through five albums, often in quick succession, but this time they’ve thrown a curve. Perhaps it’ll grow on me in 2020.
…And I haven’t even seen The Dirt. I just feel that strongly about it.
I hate the look of the guys playing The Crue, I hate the idea of a biopic, and I hope to make it through another year without seeing it. I’m happy with my copy of the book — the only Dirt you really need.
…A Look Ahead at 2020
Motley Crue will be a towering part of the 2020 tour scene, as they look ahead to their big “Stadium Tour” with Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett. Meanwhile the Robinson brothers Chris and Rich have formed a new version of The Black Crowes, who will be playing all of Shake Your Money Maker live. Far more interestingly, Mr. Bungle (now featuring Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo) will be reuniting and playing only three shows, featuring their cassette demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny played in full for the first time. Even the original BulletBoys have reunited.
The big news, so they say, is still to be announcd. Keep your ears to the ground for a full-on 2020 AC/DC tour with Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd back in the fold. Reliable sources have stated that the band are finishing up old Malcolm Young song ideas for album release.
Stay safe this New Year’s Eve and we’ll chat in 2020!