What Happened To The Best Of OMD CD I Ordered From Amazon.ca?

For the last three Christmases, a good friend of mine has given me an Amazon gift card.  In order to redeem it you have to have an active account.  Since my old one was apparently discontinued (probably because of a defunct email address and years of inactivity), I had to start a new one.  (I should clarify that my parents were the ones who used the old one and not very often, at that.)

No problem.  It takes two seconds to sign up.  Adding a gift card balance is just as quick and simple.

After searching Amazon.ca for music long coveted on my CD wishlist, I was able to spot some elusive titles I had been unable to nab at local record shops for years.

Back in early 2016, you only needed to purchase $25 worth of merch to get the free shipping & handling deal.  So, I bought a couple of titles right away.  And then, when I discovered they accept a Visa debit card, I was able to buy two more later on in order to use up the rest of the balance, also with free shipping.  Anything over my limit would be withdrawn from my seriously depleted account.  (Hey, experienced blogger looking to get paid over here.  Offers welcomed.  Send email or a DM.)

Just a few days after ordering, all my requested items showed up at my house.  Fantastic.

The following Christmas, Amazon.ca jacked up its free shipping & handling minimum to $35, so I ordered everything I wanted in one shot.  All my requested CDs showed up relatively quickly although my Matthew Sweet hits compilation could not be opened without breaking the case.  I don’t know how it got so stuck but once my dad got it open, I discovered the liner notes, the back cover and the disc were in perfect shape.  Thankfully, I had a spare case to replace the broken one.

That brings us to December 27th of last year.  Three days earlier, my friend once again generously gave me an Amazon gift card.  I ordered 4 CDs.  Two arrived on January 2 while another showed up the following day.  The fourth, The Best Of OMD, was scheduled to be delivered on January 4.

It never arrived.

So I vented in a tweet on Twitter which was spotted by the helpful folks who run the Amazon Help account.  They asked me if I had been sent an email about this.  Sure enough, in my in-box, was this notification:

“We recently learned that we may miss your delivery promise for your Amazon.ca Order…and apologize for the inconvenience. You’ll still receive the item and you can track the status of or make any changes to your order under Your Orders on Amazon.ca…”

When the disc didn’t arrive on January 5, I was told by the Amazon Help folks to sign in to my account and talk to someone with direct access to my order.  It took a few tries but I got on the live chat there.  I was told the following:

It seems, the shipment was possibly delayed by the carrier due to huge holiday deliveries. The carrier has apologized and states that ‘We’re working hard to process and deliver record holiday parcel volumes as quickly as possible. In some cases, customers may experience a delay in delivery. We continue to devote extra resources to serve you and apologize for any delays’. Usually this does not happen, please accept my sincere apology for this bad experience with us and I hope you can understand our limitations as well as of the carriers.”

I was then informed that I would receive a $5 “courtesy credit” that will go towards my next purchase.  And also this:

“I have requested a redelivery of your order on priority. The maximum time carrier would require is till Monday.”

To make sure I understood completely, I replied, “I appreciate that. So, just to be clear, [the CD] should be here no later than Monday?”

“Yes, correct. Thanks Dennis for understanding.”

It didn’t arrive on Monday.

After trying for over an hour to get back to the live chat (I later got an email from an Amazon rep who had seen me sign in even though I couldn’t see anything on my end), I gave up and wrote an email.  Just before bed late last night, I received an apologetic message from a different rep:

“As the estimated delivery date is already passed at this point, we can only presume that the package was lost during shipping. I sincerely apologize for the incorrect update.​”

I was to receive a full refund for my order (which was confirmed today).  They couldn’t replace the disc because The Best Of OMD was only sold through MegaHitRecords Canada (a third party) and not through Amazon.ca.  (They only “fulfilled” the order.)  I could always try again and re-order the CD (Ha!) or if the original disc magically appeared out of nowhere one day, I could let them know and just pay for the damn thing.  I could also refuse it (why would I do that when I want it?) and have it returned.

At any event, while I appreciate the credit, the restored portion of the gift card balance and all the apologies, I still would like to know what the fuck happened to this CD.  Because there is a Canada Post tracking number for the delivery, you can also track its progress on their site.  But much like Amazon, there’s no further update beyond December 28.

According to Canada Post, “The shipper [MegaHitRecords Canada] has created a shipping label for this item and has sent us electronic information.”

That’s followed by this alarming notice:

“If no additional updates are showing in Track, it means we have not yet received the item. We will track the item once we receive it.”

Wait.  Canada Post didn’t acquire my ordered disc?  (They only got the label to put on it?)  Then, where the fuck is it?

I’ve sent a message to MegaHitRecords Canada and hopefully they’ll have some answers for me soon.  (I’ll update if I hear anything back.)  What’s so puzzling about all of this is that 2 of the other 3 discs I ordered that did arrive as scheduled were also fulfilled by Amazon through other 3rd-party sellers with zero difficulties.

Furthermore, MHR has a 99% approval rating on Amazon.  One pleased commenter wrote yesterday, “fast delivery all good!”

Don’t tell Bernie but I’m part of the 1%.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
6:55 p.m.

UPDATE:  MegaHitRecords Canada responded yesterday apologizing for the undelivered CD but didn’t provide an explanation for why this happened in the first place.  (It remains a baffling mystery.)  I was told it was Amazon’s problem now since they fulfilled the order.

Originally, I was going to wait things out and see if the CD would actually show up within the next few business days.  After all, my most recent Internet bill was late.  Usually, I get it about a week or so before the payment is due.  Instead, it arrived on January 2nd, two days after the due date.  (I paid it immediately.)

But after thinking about it and discovering there was only one copy left of The Best Of OMD on Amazon (which is now curiously sold directly through them, not MHR Canada as before), I broke down and decided to buy it.  Thanks to that $5 credit I received and another helpful Amazon rep who made sure I still got the free shipping, I used my gift card refund to pay for it.  Now I should still have close to 4 dollars left on it (right now it’s zero) but at this point, all I care about is finally getting this goddamn CD in the mail.  I got the two-day shipping so it should be here on Monday.  Here’s hoping.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 12, 2018
1:16 a.m.

UPDATE 2:  Great news!  The second copy of The Best Of OMD CD I ordered arrived earlier this afternoon at my front door.  I am so relieved.  Many thanks to Amazon’s excellent customer service and all the folks running the @AmazonHelp Twitter account for all their assistance.  As for what happened to the original copy I ordered, it looks like it will forever remain missing.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, January 13, 2018
4:54 p.m.

Published in: on January 9, 2018 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Point

“You missed the point by a goddamn mile”
Her politics don’t matter, just her beautiful style
Don’t you dare focus on those women getting hurt
Doesn’t she look fabulous in her elegant skirt?

“You missed the point by a goddamn mile”
No discussion of oppression in this fashion file
Who cares about liberating these damaged souls?
Nothing’s more important than achieving #FemmeGoals

“You missed the point by a goddamn mile”
You mention her Zionism, I change the dial
Freeing Palestine can wait another day
Did you see that dress? Didn’t she slay?

“You missed the point by a goddamn mile”
Throwing truth in my face is unspeakably vile
I just don’t care about their endless plight
They’re not glamourous icons who happen to be white

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, January 8, 2018
10:14 p.m.

Published in: on January 8, 2018 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Banquet Of Desire

I enter you slowly
You squirm with delight
Flat on your back
Skin so milky white

The pace quickens
You sigh at every thrust
Heels flying in the air
An expression of lust

Glistening bodies
Intensifying heat
Vanishing problems
An impossible feat

You roll on your side
I climb aboard
Hands are exploring
As you slide on my sword

You take the lead
Now you’re on top
Grabbing and squeezing
With no wish to stop

Feeling the grind
As this foundation shakes
The sighs are now groans
As every part aches

Time to get vertical
The space soon tightens
Pounding like a juggernaut
So fierce it frightens

We’re close to the end
A shortness of breath
A banquet of desire
Then a little death

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 4, 2018
7:47 p.m.

Published in: on January 4, 2018 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Remembering 2017, My Twelfth Year Of Blogging

This was a terrible year.

America elected an idiot as its President.  Radical Buddhists are raping, torturing and murdering Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  The US military is supporting Saudi Arabia’s barbaric destruction of Yemen which has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, mass famine and a huge cholera outbreak.  The US occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan & Libya remain disastrous and bloody.  The Syrian civil war continues to wreak havoc on its remaining citizens who are unable to flee to safety.  As a result of all of this, we’re facing the biggest refugee crisis in more than half a century.

Mass shootings remain an American epidemic.  White supremacists are making an undesirable comeback.  US police killed over 1000 people.  Muslims face abuse and murder at levels much worse than in the time after 9/11.  Trans folks, especially WOC, are beating beaten, discriminated against and murdered.  So much ice is melting in the Arctic that permafrost is being exposed for the first time in a long time.  The Korean War is still going on.  And the Republicans just gave themselves and their super-rich benefactors an undeserved Christmas bonus that will continue for many Christmases to come.

There were so many horrors unleashed on the world these past twelve months that I incessantly tweeted about almost all of them.  Unfortunately, all that tweeting didn’t inspire a lot of blogging.  In fact, for the most part, I steered clear of covering all this depressingly bad news in this space.  Why?  Well, with so many capable journalists covering these thankless and unforgiving beats with typical thoroughness, what could I have added to these important conversations beyond short statements?  Even having a large platform as an unpaid Huffington Post Contributor didn’t provide motivation for me to join in.  (I haven’t submitted any pieces in two years.  That’s going to change soon.)

For much of 2017, I wanted to escape and not just from the endless supply of downbeat news.  I also wanted to escape from my own life (no job, no woman, still at home) and the best way to do that is to watch movies.  A lot of movies.  For the first time in 15 years, I screened more than 200 of them in a single twelve-month period.  More than 40 of them I enjoyed, which was roughly the number I wrote about here.  Most of my selections were not released this year.  In fact, I went deep into the archives for much of 2017.

Whether it was horror (Cathy’s Curse, Alien: Covenant, Neon Maniacs, Class Of 1984, 31, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Tales From The Hood, It Follows, Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek 2, Vampire’s Kiss, The Wolf Man (1941), Cat People (1942), Blair Witch, The Exorcist III, The Entity, The Purge: Election Year), comedy (Hudson Hawk, The ‘Burbs, Miami BluesBooty Call, Bird On A Wire, Beverly Hills Cop), musicals and concert films (Head, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Pink Floyd The Wall, The Song Remains The Same, Katy Perry: Part Of Me, Eddie & The Cruisers, Eddie & The Cruisers II: Eddie Lives, Purple Rain, Step Up, Step Up Revolution), science fiction (Star Wars: The Force AwakensInterstellar), action (Over The Top, The Marine), animation (A Cat In Paris, The Transformers: The Movie), drama (Fifty Shades Darker) or documentary (Dirty Wars), for the most part, film was my welcome refuge from the growing global storms.

But you can’t ignore them completely, especially now that Donald Trump is the American President.

With Robert Mueller replacing James Comey as the man in charge of investigating alleged collusion between Trump loyalists and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, here’s hoping all of these questions I posed back in May will eventually get answered.

Trump’s shocking rise to the White House did not come out of nowhere.  It was the result of decades of shameless enabling from powerful dolts in the media.  During his two-year campaign for the Presidency, few were as publicly and privately devoted to his candidacy as Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.  In June, when the hosts of Morning Joe suddenly turned against him, I noted how they couldn’t just run away from someone they had dumbly championed for quite some time.

Another on-again/off-again loyalist is Anthony Scaramucci, who initially and quite adamantly opposed Trump’s Presidential run.  Once Trump secured the GOP nomination, however, he turned into an insatiable suck-up and was eventually hired to run the struggling Communications Dept. in the White House replacing a disgruntled Sean Spicer who quit his other job as Press Secretary in protest.

But days before he was to officially start, The Mooch called Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker and cut promos on all his enemies, most notably racist media mogul Steve Bannon.  The most infamous comment from that impromptu phone interview inspired this song parody of a single famously covered by Simply Red.

Trump trolls were aggravating Bernie Sanders supporter John Cusack so much, he decided to mass block them on Twitter.  Unfortunately, I was blocked, as well.  (I wasn’t the only Trump critic to get caught in the net.)  A very nice lady on the site tried to get his attention with the hope that he would unblock me.  But as of this writing, I still can’t see his tweets while signed in or interact with him anymore.  I have to say as someone who has defended him for years and even had a couple of positive exchanges with him, this is a bummer.  When I wrote about this back in the summer, I even pinned the article to my Twitter page, hoping for a resolution.  I’m not sure what it will take to get him to correct his mistake.

Speaking of mistakes, Howard Stern’s interview with Harvey Weinstein on his Sirius/XM radio show back in 2014 was a missed opportunity to expose the formerly feared Miramax/Weinstein Company executive long before the flood of terrible accusations hit like a nuclear bomb beginning in early October.  As he admitted once the stories came out, Stern knew then what we all know now.  Why didn’t he confront him about this when he had the chance?  Let’s face it.  He blew it.

Six months before Weinstein’s shocking plummet from the heights of Hollywood power, Bill O’Reilly himself was in deep shit.  In April, The New York Times revealed a number of secret settlement payments to women who worked for Fox News.  We’re talking millions in hush money to protect the most popular broadcaster on the network from serious accusations of harassment and abuse.  The outrage was so palpable, in order to put out the growing inferno, Fox paid him a year’s salary ($25 million) to get rid of him for good, although he did return once to make an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show.

Remembering that O’Reilly had written (or rather, had someone ghostwrite for him) a bunch of books, I decided to rifle through one in particular, a greatest hits package, if you will, of previously published comments.  Keep It Pithy is a collection of shamefully recycled “wisdom” that in the wake of his downfall offered unexpected revelations.  He was hiding in plain sight this entire time.

These weren’t the only prominent figures who kept terrible secrets for decades.

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was one of the most flamboyant superstars in professional wrestling history.  Just before the national rise of the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-1980s, he murdered his extramarital girlfriend Nancy Argentino who he regularly abused.  For over 30 years, he avoided facing serious charges until he was arrested in 2015, thanks to renewed journalistic interest in the faded story.  Unfortunately, it was too late.  The case was dismissed on humanitarian grounds late last year.  Snuka had developed dementia and was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer which ultimately killed him back in January.

Cancer had also ravaged the body and voice of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, one of the greatest stickmen of all time.  The manager of numerous superstars (Ric Flair, Curt Hennig, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, Andre The Giant, Rick Rude, Nick Bockwinkel and many others), he was an even better colour commentator, especially when he teamed with close pal Gorilla Monsoon who died nearly 20 years earlier.  When Heenan died in September, the loss reverberated beyond the world of professional wrestling, a testament to his sharp comic timing and insight.

Let’s shift gears now and focus on poetry.

Stubborn Young Fool was inspired by a Twitter fight with porn star Eden Alexander who didn’t care for my criticisms of Hillary Clinton.  We had been friendly for years but apparently, I crossed a line pointing out uncomfortable truths.  She blocked me.  The poem’s harsh tone summarizes the whole infuriating experience.  If I learned anything, it’s this.  Arguing with Clintonistas is a waste of time.  They prefer to live in denial.

Another public figure I used to be friendly with was Warren Kinsella, the overrated Liberal strategist.  He was the subject of three poems this year.  The Prince Of Dumbness, a goof on his Prince Of Darkness moniker (which he stole from Ozzy Osbourne), was inspired by a Huffington Post piece where he declared he was now a feminist while also admitting to being a shitwipe to women in the past without being terribly specific.  (Does he have anything to worry about, I wonder?)  A well-known “liberal” Zionist, I also roasted him for being a PEP, progressive except for Palestine.  Liberal In Denial covers similar ground and also focuses on his bad neoliberal politics and references his many political feuds.  Fake Progressive is pretty self-explanatory.

The Acquiescence is a play on #TheResistance.  It’s all about the Democratic Party’s ongoing civil war pitting out-of-touch Hillary Clinton acolytes against pissed off Bernie Sanders supporters.  Thanks to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Democrats are now more in tune with the needs of Corporate America than ordinary citizens, most especially the poor.  The poem is rightly cynical and scathing about it ever being a true opposition party without serious structural reform.

The other poems I wrote this year were more personal.  Hot Persuasion is a tribute to a beautiful horror movie fan I’m friendly with on Twitter who often posts provocative pics of her incredible body in various forms of undress.  (They were apparently too spicy for Instagram who removed her account.  She had to start a new one.)  I’m still too shy to tell her that I wrote it in her honour.

Plunge Into Darkness addresses the seductive nature of negative thinking while Alone In The Shade bemoans my sexless, jobless existence.  Disappear The Silence is a rare non-rhyming experiment that initially started off as a fictional slice of horror.  I was imagining a stalking-type situation.  But as I kept writing it, I realized it was really about having a panic attack and the crucial importance of having a support system to calm you down.

Because I only wrote a little more than 60 pieces in 2017 and didn’t offer anything new to The Huffington Post, hits were down for the second straight year.  By the time the new year begins, The Writings Of Dennis Earl will have accumulated almost 25000 hits in the last 12 months.  It was 30000 last year.

So, obviously, I have some work to do.  That said, nearly half of the page views were for my Seinfeld trivia pieces which continue to attract attention years after they were first posted.  (The earliest stories are almost 10 years old now.)  Also remaining popular is this CM Punk article which has been seen almost 13000 times and What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons?, which had already passed the 30000-hit mark last year.  It remains the most widely read of all my blog entries.  If only my new stuff attracted as much interest.

Speaking of old entries, it was beyond flattering to have this Woody Allen story linked in this People Magazine article, something that doesn’t happen too often.  And in another Woody Allen piece, a reader wrote one of the nicest, most thoughtful comments I’ve ever received.

So it wasn’t all bad news in 2017.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 31, 2017
10:24 p.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2017 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Sucked In 2017

1. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan died.

2. President Trump’s racist travel ban on Muslims.  The first version caused needless chaos at America’s airports at the start of the year until it was stayed by numerous lower courts.  The second version was also rejected.  And while the third is also facing legal resistance, the Supreme Court has decided to keep parts of it active for the time being.  So many innocent people have suffered needless aggravation and turmoil because of a paranoid moron.

3. Fist Fight.  The worst film of the year.  Doesn’t Ice Cube get tired of playing the Angry Black Guy who scares white people?  Zero laughs.

4. Jinder Mahal became WWE Champion.  Why?

5. Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington committed suicide.  Depression is a bitch.

6. The Best Picture cock-up at the Academy Awards.  Warren Beatty grabbed the wrong envelope (Best Actress) and instead of going off-stage to grab the right one, he stalled and handed it off to an oblivious Faye Dunaway who announced the winner as La La Land even though Emma Stone’s name was also visible on the card.  La La Land’s producers were almost through with their acceptance speeches when the mistake was finally corrected live on-air.  Because of incredible incompetence, a special moment was ruined for the real winner, Moonlight, which had otherwise pulled off a rare Oscar upset.

7. HMV went bankrupt.  I bought so many CDs there over the years.  They had such good deals, too.  What a loss for music retail.

8. The Killers’ Wonderful, Wonderful.  False advertising.

9. John Cusack accidentally blocked me on Twitter.  Someone please tell him to remedy this injustice immediately!

10. The persecution of Reality Winner.  She doesn’t deserve prison for leaking to journalists and she shouldn’t be in custody.  She’s no threat to anyone.

11. Jonathan Demme died.

12. OJ Simpson got paroled.  Does anybody believe he’s been fully rehabilitated?

13. Tortured whistleblower Matt DeHart got 18 months cruelly added to his already questionable sentence.  The lack of mass public outrage for his infuriating case is astounding.

14. Bill Cosby wasn’t convicted for assaulting Andrea Constand, thanks to two jurors in denial.  Thankfully, he faces a re-trial next June.

15. Ex-drug warriors in Canada jumping on the upcoming marijuana legalization bandwagon.  I’m so old I remember when Julian Fantino claimed with a straight face that legalizing pot was the same as legalizing murder.  Now he’s about to cash in along with other former cops & politicos while longtime activists and people of colour continue to be persecuted for no good reason.  Disgusting.

16. The ongoing genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  Aun Sung Sui Kyi is no hero.  On her watch, innocent people are being brutally beaten, raped, tortured and murdered.  History will not be kind.

17. The murder of protester Heather Heyer during the Charlottesville protests.  White supremacy remains the most dangerous force in America.

18. Depeche Mode’s Spirit.  It doesn’t have any.  Easily, their worst album.

19. Julia-Louis Dreyfus was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Hope they caught it in time.

20. The Las Vegas shooting massacre where hundreds of country music fans were gunned down by a rich, disgruntled psychopath during an outdoor Jason Aldean show.  (His motive remains unknown.)  The Manchester shooting massacre where dozens of young Ariana Grande fans were murdered near the end of her UK show.  And the shooting massacre in a small American church where half of the small congregation were wiped out.  Toxic masculinity is terrorism.

21. Andre De Grasse hurt his hamstring which prevented him from running one last race against retiring track legend Usain Bolt during the World Championships.  The timing was awful.  In his last amateur competition, Bolt finished 3rd in the 100 metres.  De Grasse would’ve won.

22. The overexposure of Corey Graves on colour commentary on WWE television.  He’s supposed to be a heel yet he rags on Elias & a now-villainous Enzo Amore.  He’s not funny.  He gets into pointless arguments with his fellow announcers.  And he’s just plain annoying.  Matt Striker, all is forgiven.

23. Fifty Shades Darker.  Abusive relationships aren’t sexy.  And there’s still one more of these dangerous films to come.  Make it stop.

24. The endless smearing of Hillary Clinton’s growing list of critics.  It isn’t feminist to defend a war criminal.

25. The California wildfires.  Fort MacMurray 2016, only much worse.

26. Gord Downie died.

27. Jake Tapper attacked Linda Sarsour and the Women’s March movement on Twitter for honouring wrongly convicted revolutionary Assata Shakur, who escaped prison decades ago, on her birthday.  The nasally CNN blowhard trusts the FBI more than intelligent people.  Would you expect anything less from a Zionist?

28. Speaking of which, Apartheid Israel still illegally occupies Palestine with major financial support from several Western governments including my own.  Plus, Donald Trump announced America’s long established policy to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the latter of which he falsely declared the capital of the white supremacist state.  How long before a third intifada?

29. The political and criminal persecution of hundreds of #J20 protesters and journalists who covered the Inauguration Day march.  Even though it hasn’t led to serious, longterm prison sentences, the disquieting way it has been allowed to carry on for almost a year is an outrage.  Corporate media doesn’t care about human rights or independent journalists.

30. MSNBC broadcaster Joy Reid had to address old resurfaced blog entries that revealed she made homophobic remarks about Republican turned Democrat Charlie Crist.  I’m still waiting for her apology to Chelsea Manning.

31. Spain’s ruthless crackdown on Catalonia separatists.  Is it any wonder they want no part of your country?

32. Gitmo is still open with 41 prisoners remaining in legal limbo, most of whom are innocent.

33. The Phoenix pay system which has caused chaos for Canada’s public servants has still not been fixed two years after it was implemented.  Proposed by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, it’s now become a Liberal problem for Justin Trudeau.  What exactly was wrong with the previous system?

34. The re-embracing of Bush-era neocon war criminals by both CNN and #TheResistance.  Any movement that believes Bill Kristol, Michael Hayden, David Frum and James Clapper are trustworthy progressive allies after all the damage they’ve done to innocent people is a movement that deserves endless ridicule and collective scorn.

35. Erica Garner, the daughter of wrongfully murdered Eric Garner, died.  The struggle for justice must go on.

36. The cop who killed Philando Castle won’t serve a day in prison.  At least he lost his job.

37. The ongoing harassment of journalist Barrett Brown by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons.  It’s never a good idea to pick a fight with a truthteller who knows your darkest secrets.

38. The backlash to Kathy Griffin regarding her provocative photo of her holding a bloody fake head of Donald Trump.  They acted like it was his real head.  As a result, she lost an endorsement deal, can’t get booked in an American venue to do stand-up and was fired from CNN.  She won’t be co-hosting their New Year’s Eve show this year.  At least Europe still loves her.

39. Gothamist and DNAInfo were shut down because their billionaire owner opposes journalists forming unions.  Regardless of your view of unions (there’s plenty to criticize), retaliation is never acceptable.

40. Underworld: Blood Wars and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.  Two terrible endings to two terrible horror franchises.  Both Kate Beckinsale and Milla Jovovich, two talented actors, deserve so much better than to be stuck for over a decade in all this empty junk.

41. Monster Trucks.  It was completed years ago before being dumped without much applause in January.  Not even the wonderful Jane Levy could save this charmless shite.

42. Life, The Belko Experiment, XX and Rings.  What was that about a horror revival?  I’m not seeing it.

43. All the other terrible movies I saw this year:  Vampire’s Kiss, Head, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Over The Top, The Boss, Ghostbusters (2016), Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II, Beverly Hills Cop III, The Purge: Election Year, Masterminds, Central Intelligence, Dirty Grandpa, Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, Why Him?, Tusk, Yoga Hosers, McLintock!, High Spirits, Angry Birds, Hudson Hawk, Big Top Pee Wee, The Chaperone, Nine Lives, Ice Age: Collision Course, Superman III, Brewster’s Millions (1985), Cabin Fever, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, The Marine, Airborne, Casino Royale (1967), Beat The Devil, The Perils Of Pauline, Step Up Revolution, Wet Hot American Summer, Night Of The Comet, 31, My Boyfriend’s Back, Pure Luck, Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek 2, CB4, Elephant Boy, Phantasm Ravager, Grizzly, Neon Maniacs, Feast, Dead Alive, Tales From The Hood, Cathy’s Curse (both versions), The Freshman (1925), College (1927), Our Hospitality, Steamboat Bill Jr., Booty Call, Peter Pan (1953), Tremors, Losin’ It, The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane, Jaws 3, Jaws The Revenge, Silent Night, Joe Dirt, Black Dog, The Remaining, Home, Vacation, Batman (1966), Storks, Jetsons: The Movie, The Secret Life Of Pets, Orca, Daddy Day Care, The ‘Burbs, Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book – Mowgli & Baloo, The General, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and Blair Witch.

43. Sean Astin blocked me on Twitter.  Rudy, no!

44. All the botched reporting on the Trump/Russia investigation.  Woodward & Bernstein weren’t this sloppy covering Watergate.

45. I had a falling out with Eden Alexander because I criticized Hillary Clinton.  Twitter friendships are way too fragile.

46. Donald Trump’s dumb threats to North Korea.  He’s not the first US President to unwittingly convince that country to stock up on nukes.  Furthermore, the UN’s cruel sanctions won’t end the ebbing and flowing of stupid tension but it will needlessly hurt an innocent Korean population which is already happening.  A better idea would be to finally end the Korean War once and for all.

47. The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated in the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs after a tremendous season where they earned more than 100 points.  Bad refereeing, botched replay calls but also a lack of scoring when they needed it killed their first post-season in over a decade.  Next year’s prospects look bleaker.

48. Tom Petty died.

49. The endless jokes about Trump’s covfefe tweet.  He meant to write “coverage”, assholes.  Time to stop beating this dead horse.

50. All the hurricanes that hit the United States and Puerto Rico which still hasn’t fully recovered thanks to a negligent Trump Administration.

51. The ongoing drug war in the Philippines.  Duerte is a monster who needs to be held accountable.

52. Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing campaign on Yemen which has led to a serious humanitarian crisis.  Why are Western governments still financially supporting this murderous, anti-democratic regime?  They have all blood on their hands.

53. Trump’s botched Yemen raids.  Civilian murders are rising and no one is raising hell about it.

54. The crackdown on Standing Rock protesters and journalists.  The way we continue to abuse Indigenous folks is an embarrassment and an outrage.  We’re a long way from reconciliation.

55. Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Frequently hostile to the press, shamelessly covering for a serial liar and completely discredited.

56. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka died without facing justice for murdering Nancy Argentino.

57. Crying Ashley was acing her final drive on Canada’s Worst Driver without weeping a single tear until she nearly ran into two pedestrians.  Were it not for host Andrew Younghusband pointing them out, she wouldn’t have hit the brake in time.  After admirably overcoming her fears while driving, because of this unfortunate miscue, she wasn’t able to graduate.  So close.

58. The horrific Grenfell tower fire in the UK.  The most tragic thing about it, besides the needless loss of life and displaced citizens, is the fact that it was completely preventable.

59. CBC’s Power & Politics invited Gavin MacInnes on as a guest.  Never put a Nazi on TV unless you can destroy them completely.

60. Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme kicked a photographer’s camera so hard it hit her right in the face during an annual KROQ concert.  He then cut his face until it was bloody and then mocked the mighty Muse, one of the other bands on the bill.  Two insincere apologies followed.  What is wrong with him?

61. All those horror stories from passengers of various American Airlines including that poor man, a doctor named David Dao, who was dragged off a United flight because he refused to give up his seat to an employee.  According to Wikipedia, he suffered “significant injuries as a result: a concussion, broken teeth, a broken nose, and other injuries”.  After initially victim-blaming him, the airline eventually apologized and settled a subsequent lawsuit.  We hate to fly and it shows.

62. All the men and women who suffered numerous indignities because of the powerful men who harassed and abused them in various professional fields.  So much talent forced out because of toxic masculinity.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 31, 2017
7:55 p.m.

What Rocked In 2017

1. Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was released from military prison after having her draconian 35-year sentence commuted by outgoing President Obama.  She should have never been convicted in the first place.

2. President Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.  The only good thing he’s done for the working class.

3. Roy Moore did not become a Senator.  Unlike most observers, I wasn’t surprised at allHe doesn’t believe women should work, vote or become politicians.  He hates Muslims.  He doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state.  He waxed nostalgic for the slave era.  As the Washington Post reported, he enjoyed stalking, harassing and assaulting teenage girls in his 30s.  And he’s a sore loser.  As of this writing, he still hasn’t conceded to incoming Senator Doug Jones.  In fact, despite the vote being officially certified, he has falsely asserted the accurate results were fraudulent because of, wait for it, Black people.

4. JBL finally left the commentary table on Smackdown Live after being a dick to Mauro Ranallo who ended up being moved to NXT.  His weekly obnoxiousness won’t be missed.  Added bonus: JBL blocked me on Twitter along with a whole lot of other folks.  Why?  Because we all tweeted positive things about Ranallo.  What a snowflake.

5. Anthony Scaramucci’s impromptu phone interview with Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker.  It cost him a communications job within the Trump Administration (he was fired before his first official day) but it was absolute gold.  Can Trump please re-hire him just for the material?

6. Martin Shkreli is in prison.  Too bad being a greedy asshole doesn’t result in a life sentence.

7. Queens Of The Stone Age’s Villains.  Still heavy and melodic but a lot funkier than usual.  Josh Homme emotes like no other.

8. Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News, but only after The New York Times revealed numerous multi-million dollar settlements he secretly made with women who accused him of sexual harassment and, in one case, verbal abuse, and ongoing pressure from a sort-of advertiser boycott (the ads were simply relocated to other Fox shows).  The once powerful bark has been reduced to an insignificant yelp.

9. The Festival Of Friendship on Monday Night Raw.  What does Chris Jericho get for humourously and touchingly work shooting his love and respect for “best friend” Kevin Owens?  A brutal beating and the loss of his US Championship at WrestleMania 33.  The high point of a very entertaining story.

10. Alien: Covenant.  Ridley Scott is incapable of making a bad Alien film.  Far scarier and gorier than its underappreciated predecessor, Prometheus.  Michael Fassbender impresses again, this time in two distinctive roles.  He should get nominated for an Oscar but won’t.

11. Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope EP.  In a year filled with so much bad news and haunting dread, leave it to Chris Martin and company to overwhelm you with their much needed inspirational beauty.  Your move, U2.

12. The new 280-character limit on Twitter.  How maddening it had been trying to précis your thoughts to one or several users with 140 and include a link so they would all fit in a single tweet.  I hate restrictions.  Now how about adding an Edit button?

13. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All push which attracted widespread support from Americans and even some prominent Democrats.  What was once considered impossible is now quite doable.  He would’ve won.

14. Raging racist Marine Le Pen did not become the President of France.  But she connected with more voters than her equally racist father.  The future might be more ominous.

15. “Who wants to walk with Elias?”  I pop every time.

16. The summer eclipse.  In some parts of Canada and the US, it was total.  In others, you could still see part of the sun.  The coolest part for my family was seeing it through a miniature light show in our downstairs bathroom.  Imagine seeing tiny circles shaped by growing then departing shadows off and on for hours.  Pretty nifty.

17. Project Veritas tried to fool The Washington Post into believing that one of their dopey undercover operatives had been impregnated by a young Roy Moore.  Not only were they not fooled, they exposed the inept scam in two viral articles.  The value of skeptical journalism writ large.

18. Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.  This overrated fascist supported heartless stings on vulnerable Muslims, secretly infilitrating Black Lives Matter and defended agents impersonating journalists.  Good riddance.

19. The two-part A&E Elizabeth Smart documentary.  A remarkable young woman and her loving family recall her nine months of torture as a teen in the captivity of a hypocritical rapist.  Despite all the horror, vividly retold in unflinching detail, the shocking story has a happy ending.  She’s blissfully married with two kids, wrote a best-selling, acclaimed book about her ordeal and advocates for victims while her attacker is in prison for life.  Justice.

20. Big Wreck’s Grace Street.  Their third rocking album since their welcome reunion.  Now middle-aged, Ian Thornley, the Canadian Chris Cornell, is still angst-ridden and heartbroken.  I wouldn’t want him any other way.

21. Jeremy Corbyn’s strong showing in the UK election.  He singlehandedly exposed the media and the Tories for what they really are:  substantially weakened, morally bankrupt neoliberals.  Theresa May’s poor judgment as Prime Minister (she thought it was a good idea to call this election well before she had to) has sealed her fate.  Her forthcoming resignation is an inevitability.  The future is Labour.

22. Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles at WrestleMania 33.  The opening match which had one of the weakest builds of the year still somehow ended up being the best encounter of the entire show, one of the better events in recent years.  Shane O’Mac has redeemed himself after putting over The Undertaker in that lousy Hell In A Cell match.

23. Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath.  David Miscavige’s worst nightmare.  Season one won a much deserved Emmy.  Season two should nab one, as well.  (What a gut wrenching series of shows it showcased.)  It’s not a benign church, it’s a ruthless, capitalistic cult that ruins lives.

24. The President Show.  Forget Alec Baldwin.  Anthony Atamaniuk’s pitch perfect Trump impersonation is far superior and darker.  The media-hungry leader of America gets the comic drubbing he deserves in the form of a fake talk show co-hosted with his own ass-kissy sidekick, Vice President Mike Pence (wonderfully shameless and secretly conniving Peter Grosz holding his own).  So, when’s fake Bernie Sanders getting his own show?

25. Foo Fighters’ Concrete & Gold.  A welcome return to rollicking form after the disappointing Sonic Highways experiment.

26. The downfalls of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Mark Schwahn, Jeremy Piven, Dustin Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mario Batali, Israel Horowitz, James Toback, Louis CK, Mark Halperin, Danny Masterson, Al Franken and many, many others thanks to numerous reported accusations of sexual harassment and assault by hundreds of women and dozens of men.  A long overdue reckoning.  This is only the beginning.

27. Bowe Bergdahl was released from military prison.

28. Split.  Proof that The Visit was not a fluke.  M. Night Shyamalan has indeed revitalized his creativity by focusing more on his own complex characters than getting lost in big budget special effects.  James McAvoy delivers a memorable performance as a deeply troubled man with two dozen distinctive personalities.  And Bjork doppelganger Anya Taylor-Joy is also good as one of his troubled, kidnapped victims.  Along with her very fine appearance in The Witch, she’s a star in the making.

29. All the other wonderful movies I screened this year:  The Skeleton Key, Dirty Wars, Citizenfour, Life Itself, Heavy Metal, Gimme Shelter, Jimi At Monterey, A Christmas Carol (2009), The Shining, The Adventures Of Milo & Otis, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, A View To A Kill, Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist, Purple Rain, Class Of 1984, Firestarter, Neil Young: Heart Of Gold, Neil Young Journeys, Rust Never Sleeps, Ladies & Gentlemen The Rolling Stones, Katy Perry: Part Of Me, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Jungle Book (1967), The Witch, The Last Waltz, The Stranger (1946), Hitchcock, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Whirlpool, Interstellar, Rocky Balboa, Twilight Zone – The Movie, All Things Must Pass, Nosferatu The Vampyre, Metallica: Through The Never, Streets Of Fire and Eddie & The Cruisers.

30. The Arcade Fire’s Everything Now.  More moving, well-crafted brilliance from Canada’s best band.  My favourite album of the year.

31. A&E’s superb Drew Peterson docuseries.  Despite being a foolish philanderer, it seems highly improbable that he murdered his pregnant wife.  What a miscarriage of justice.  He must be freed.

32. #MeToo.

33. Don Meredith, a married anti-sex preacher, resigned from the Canadian Senate two years after being exposed by The Toronto Star and The Globe & Mail as both a serial sexual harasser and a predator of a young teenage girl.  Stephen Harper sure knows how to pick ’em, doesn’t he?

34. Once wrongly incarcerated at Gitmo for over a decade until his release last year, Mohamedou Slahi’s best-selling but heavily redacted Guantanamo Diary was finally released without the redactions.  I would like to read it.

35. Robyn Doolittle’s Unfounded series in The Globe & Mail.  Sexual assault has not been taken seriously by Canada’s police departments for far too long.  And now, thanks to Doolittle’s dogged reporting, a number of them, including the RCMP, are re-examining their decision to drop so many investigations based on flimsy, sexist assumptions.  We’ll see if victims will finally see justice now.

36. Nine Inch Nails’ Add Violence EP.  Tortured emotions you can dance to.

37. The fall of Milo, the billionaire-financed racist transphobic dickwad who was one of the architects of the long discredited and dangerous GamerGate.  He got turfed from Twitter, lost his book deal (it was released independently and instantly bombed) and got fired from Breitbart (the far right website that launched him) because he condones predatory behaviour of underage boys.  He also couldn’t properly organize a “free speech” event featuring similar right-wing dopes, doesn’t write his own garbage (he has a team of ghostwriters, the lazy cunt), does karaoke with Nazis and his book editor’s harsh comments about his trashed book publicly surfaced.  The sooner he goes away forever, the better.

38. Toronto FC won their first MLS Championship.  The franchise isn’t even a decade old.

39. Impractical Jokers.  The Moronic Beatles of hardcore hidden camera improv.  Even the reruns are funny.  Larry!

40. Braun Strowman, especially when he was beating down Roman Reigns on Raw.  A monster heel with extreme agility who’s on the verge of being world champion some day soon.

41. Ariana Grande’s kindness towards the surviving victims who attended her Manchester show and were shot by a mass shooter.  And that tender moment where she stepped in for a young girl who was overcome with emotion while singing with a choir during a benefit concert following the tragedy.  Compassion is good.  We need a lot more of it.

42. The women of the Canadian Home Shopping Channel.  They should rename it The Milf Channel.  Oh my!

43. Colin Kaepernick’s quiet protest against police brutality.  He might no longer be a quarterback in the NFL but his kneeling during the national anthem has become a powerful statement against white supremacy.  We haven’t heard the last from him.

44. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania 33.  They accomplished more in five minutes than the entirety of their hesitant, meaningless encounter at Wrestlemania 20.

45. Michael Flynn, Omarosa, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Tom Price all left The Trump Administration, some in absolute disgrace.  Expect more exits and embarrassing revelations in 2018.

46. Omar Khadr finally got compensation and an apology from the Canadian government for his wrongful incarceration at Gitmo and the horrific abuse he suffered for a decade.  May he live the rest of his life in peace.

47. Christy Clark is no longer the Premier of British Columbia.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 31, 2017
7:20 p.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Song Remains The Same (1976)

Maybe they should’ve called it Dazed & Confused.

Led Zeppelin’s one and only concert film, The Song Remains The Same, doesn’t begin with a live performance.  Instead, we get an inexplicable action scene.

A mob guy and two of his armed goons pay a visit to a bunch of other gangsters who are playing some kind of weird board game.  Once they arrive, out come the tommy guns.

You have to go to Wikipedia to understand the inclusion of this bizarre scene.  The mob guy ordering the hit is the band’s legendarily protective manager Peter Grant who often drove record label weasels crazy with his demands for his clients.  The scene is supposed to be metaphorical, a harsh fantasy regarding Grant’s cynical feelings about the crooked music business.

But does the casual viewer know what Peter Grant even looks like?  I was familiar with his reputation but certainly not his face.  Even so, why is this baffling scene opening a concert movie?

It’s not the only weird moment.

Instead of jumping right to music (there’s a quick shot of white doves flapping around in slow motion followed by a morning in New York City fast forwarded through to nighttime), we see each member of the band at home.

Singer Robert Plant and his wife watching their two young kids play around naked in a stream.  Bassist John Paul Jones, looking like Emo Phillips with that incredibly silly haircut, reading a children’s story to his own daughters.  Drummer John Bonham driving around in his fancy car and working on his farm.  And guitarist Jimmy Page, without a woman or kids, playing what looks like a harmonium outside his estate.

It takes almost 15 minutes before the band takes the stage at Madison Square Garden to bugger up Rock And Roll.  The drums sound off which ruins the track.  But thankfully, that’s followed by Black Dog where the band is more in sync.

Instead of sticking with the concert footage all the way through, though, the filmmakers often jump to random scenes that are distracting more than enlightening.  They include:

Peter Grant complaining to Robert Plant about bootleg merchandise being sold.  Peter Grant complaining to more people at the venue about bootleg merchandise being sold.  A woman begging passersby for tickets to the concert.  A couple of fans without tickets getting snuck in by cops and the filmmakers.  Another fan, one without a shirt, being tackled, placed in a room and eventually thrown out of the building with no explanation.

Even during the live performances, the filmmakers can’t help themselves by cutting away to more fantasy nonsense as the music plays.

While the band rolls through the uneven title song we see Plant riding on a horse and fighting medieval soldiers with his sword in slow motion while trying to hang out with a woman who is not his wife.  During the epic Dazed & Confused, Page is seen climbing a mountain to find an old man who turns out to be him wearing prosthetic make-up.  During another track, Jones wears a freaky mask while riding his own steed and bothering his wife for no reason.

During the tedious extended drum solo that is Moby Dick, Bonham’s fantasy sees him riding a funny car, working on his farm, driving his fancy car around town and hanging out with his wife and son.  In other words, his real life recreated for the cameras.  (Jason, who would become a professional skin slapper in his own right, based on the footage we see, clearly showed promise at a very young age.)

Late in the film one song is literally interrupted a couple of times to inform us that the band was robbed of over 200,000 dollars while staying in a hotel.  Again, you turn to Wikipedia to learn that the money was never recovered and it was likely an employee who was the culprit.  (He apparently fled to Jamaica with the dough.)  Why was this inserted?  It’s like CNN repeatedly interrupting something you’re enjoying with Breaking News that isn’t important or properly contextualized.

Setting aside all of these completely unnecessary indulgences, there’s still a big problem with the concert footage itself.  As the band would later confess, this isn’t Led Zeppelin at their best.  Barely half the songs are any good.  Dazed & Confused, the strongest cut, is nevertheless way too long, thanks to all kinds of added guitar flourishes not heard in the original studio version.  While entertaining, it runs nearly 30 minutes.  Just a tad excessive.

And furthermore, according to Wikipedia, some of the shots are studio recreations done long after their MSG gigs (the band taped three shows in 1973 and somehow didn’t capture enough close-ups).  I have to admit, you can’t tell the difference.  But still, that’s pathetic.  No wonder this material took three years to get released in theatres.

Because this is a 70s movie, we get pretentious variations of the split screen, occasional visual splashes of outdated, annoying psychedelia, one moment of exploding, low-scale pyrotechnics and of course, a disco ball.  Another staple of the decade, the flaming gong routine, makes a brief albeit welcome appearance.  Few rock clichés are as profoundly missed as that one.  But other than that, the look of this film is not very appealing unless you enjoy getting up close and personal many times with Robert Plant’s blue jean-covered bulge.  And yes, back in the day, I’m sure many did.  (The band were notorious womanizers, contrary to the phony devoted family men image presented here.)

Led Zeppelin were one of the greatest studio bands of all time and yet, one of the most self-indulgent on stage.  We can be thankful that the Moby Dick solo in this movie runs only 15 minutes rather than the 25-minute version found on the triple live album How The West Was Won.  Yes, it’s nice to see fiery live takes of Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven outside the confines of a studio setting.  But the inconsistency of their live performance overall here is deeply disappointing.

As the band noted later on, the MSG shows came at the end of their ’73 tour when they were burned out and not as energetic.  The unfortunate evidence is right there on the screen.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 31, 2017
1:43 a.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2017 at 1:43 am  Comments (1)  

Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)

I first saw Pink Floyd The Wall back in college in 1993.  There was a supplemental course where we had to break up into small groups and pick a film to present to our classmates.

One group selected the original Poltergeist.  Another picked Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels.  A third went with Aliens.  Without my support, my group chose Monty Python & The Holy Grail but didn’t bother to include me in the assignment.  (They did all the work and during our presentation I just stood there like an disinterested extra but I digress.)

A fifth group presented The Wall.  What a strange film.  Dark, depressing, weird.  I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or not.

Nearly 25 years later, I finally watched it again.

Roger Waters had never written a screenplay before and it shows.  Darting back and forth between the past and present, reality and nightmare, it’s as emotionally disconnected as its tortured anti-hero.  And it’s still dark, depressing and weird, only more so now.

Bob Geldof plays Pink, a rock star hibernating in a disgusting hotel room watching old war movies in a silent stupor.  He’s never gotten over the death of his father, a soldier in World War II.  And he has terrible relationships with women.

His mother was overly controlling during his childhood.  His wife has left him for an anti-nuke activist.  And in one uncomfortable scene, he erupts at an otherwise mesmerized groupie nearly missing her head with the large objects he hurls at the wall.

He also harbours fascist tendencies.  With his hair slicked back and his eyebrows imperfectly sliced off with a razor, he eerily channels the more sinister elements of David Bowie’s Thin White Duke persona minus the dye job.  Geldof has an unmistakable charisma but his character isn’t very sympathetic, although the movie tries very hard to find convenient scapegoats for his misogyny and xenophobia.

In a flashback scene, we see him desperately attempt to find a replacement father figure on a playground.  But he’s rejected.  In another one, he’s never far from his mother’s confining embrace.  He can’t sleep alone.  A third shows him being humiliated by a teacher for daring to write poetry in class when he’s supposed to be learning about acres.  There’s also a series of cringeworthy scenes where he watches an old war movie about a soldier who’s named his black dog Nigger.

Because this is all based on Pink Floyd’s famous double album of the same name, The Wall is a musical, albeit a very uneven one.  There’s very little dialogue but a whole lot of familiar tracks not necessarily heard in their original forms.  I’ve always loved Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) and thankfully, it remains a powerful anti-authoritarian statement.  Parts 1 & 3 are good, too.  Besides this trilogy, there are a couple of other standouts as well.

But there are several others that are sluggish and uninspiring.  Geldof takes the lead on one such dreary number (heard twice) where he reveals absolute contempt for his rapturous young audience of aspiring Nazis.  He pointedly notes how they all have that “space cadet glow”.

Pink Floyd The Wall also features occasional animation.  The Nazi’s fatal appropriation of the Swastika is replaced with two hammers.  In one of the best sequences, a bunch of giant red and black handled hammers goosestep in unison.  Toxic masculinity and white supremacy are a natural tag team.

Because of the film’s schizophrenic, non-linear narrative any attempts at profound political statements are either muddled or overly simplistic.  (War is bad.  Rock stars are like dictators.  Kids without fathers grow up miserable.  It’s all the women’s fault that the teachers are mean.).

However, there is one notable exception.

In another good animated sequence, British Imperial war planes suddenly turn into flying white crosses.  One white cross on the ground turns red as blood rolls down a nearby sewer drain.  So much treasure wasted for the impure pursuits of a “Christian” empire.  Maybe the whole film should’ve been animated.

At one point, Pink’s willful isolation pisses off his manager (Bob Hoskins, if you can believe it) who, with assistance, breaks into his place and has him pumped with drugs to supposedly revitalize him.  Instead, he turns into a monster.

Eventually, in an unconvincing finale, he learns through an imaginary trial to break down the wall of indifference that has surrounded him for years.  As dark as this movie is, this is a remarkable cop out.  How does a violent man with no hope and ugly views of women and people of colour suddenly decide to feel again?

Directed by Alan Parker, Pink Floyd The Wall is certainly one of the more ambitious rock musicals committed to film.  It wants to rightly condemn imperial violence and how it damages families while also wanting to draw awkward connections between rock stars and fascists.  But it doesn’t know how to achieve any of this through powerful emotion or sly cleverness.  Quite frankly, David Bowie & Iggy Pop did it on better on record.

Roger Waters was originally cast as Pink because the character’s complicated life mirrored his own at the time.  He had failed marriages and felt increasingly at odds with his own rock stardom.  The bigger Pink Floyd became in the post-Syd Barrett blockbuster 70s, the less he felt connected with his own audience.  As he argued at the time, the kids coming to shows in his view were only there for his celebrity and not necessarily for his musical ideas.

That’s not very persuasive when you consider the remarkable chart success The Dark Side Of The Moon alone enjoyed for roughly two decades.  Long after its 1973 debut, it stayed firmly planted on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart right up until the mid-90s before it was relegated to the archive chart.  Did people really buy that record because Roger Waters is famous or because they loved the album and what it represents?

In the two scenes where Bob Geldof’s Pink insults his teen audience by calling them stupid they don’t revolt nor do they riot or boo.  Instead, they stare in admiration, applaud their approval and dance in unison.  It reminds me of a scene from The Simpsons where Bart imagines doing the same thing during a show where the crowd cheers his open disdain for them.

The movie is depressing not because it dares to grapple with these dark ideas and themes.  It’s depressing because it doesn’t know how to properly explore them in a coherent story.  It suffers greatly from a lack of a consistently good musical score, collapses from the weak structure of its convoluted screenplay and uses its tired misogyny as a convenient crutch.  There isn’t a single major female character who isn’t to blame for Pink’s sordid existence.  Ditto his strict teacher.  And the war scenes, like much of the film, lack intensity.

In a number of ways, Pink has a lot in common with President Donald Trump.

Both blame minorities and women for their self-hatred.  Both are unrepentant abusers.  Both seem sad and lost and in deep denial of their character deficiencies.  Both are emotionally distant and have volcanic tempers.  Both attract the naïve in astonishing numbers.  Both have an unhealthy addiction to Television.  Both refuse to accept responsibility for their own problems.  Both seem trapped in lives that offer financial rewards and undeserved positions of power but not transcendence and nirvana.  And both are unworthy of anyone’s sympathy.

35 years after its commercially successful and critically acclaimed theatrical debut, Pink Floyd The Wall has no shortage of supporters.  (Roger Ebert included it in his Great Movies series.)  But after two screenings, I can’t share their enthusiasm.  Like its fascist protagonist, this movie’s too dour and hateful to embrace.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 29, 2017
5:54 p.m.

Published in: on December 29, 2017 at 5:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Disappear The Silence

A glance across the room
Purposeful avoidance
The sudden tightening of muscles
The escalation of intensity

Slowly drawing nearer

Collective ignorance
Total indifference
Drowning noise the perfect cover

Slowly drawing nearer

Attention diverted
Unmistakable laughter
A wave of self-consciousness

Slowly drawing nearer

Disappearing space
A shadow looming
A quiet fire approaching

Slowly drawing nearer

A paused conversation
A pained realization
A changed expression

Slowly drawing nearer

Self-control evaporating
The desert becomes a river
No more stillness

Slowly drawing nearer

A blinding sight
A haunting spectre
An unwelcome past resurrected
Impossible to breathe
Minutes feeling like hours
Shuddering in its presence
Suddenly alone in the crowd

And then, a gentle touch
And a look of concern
Disappears the silence
For now

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 28, 2017
3:49 a.m.

Published in: on December 28, 2017 at 3:49 am  Comments (1)  

Fake Progressive

Selfish dick who does what he wants
Hateful prick who bullies and taunts
The stench of failure endlessly haunts
Callous ignorance he deliberately flaunts

Fake progressive who settles for less
Always aggressive and making a mess
Status quo slave often burned by a guess
Can’t convince voters to just say yes

Habitually unwise and completely out of touch
This phony disguise has become too much
So many wasted years dependent on this crutch
Pressured to perform, he fails in the clutch

Professional windbag who just won’t quit
Horrendous douchebag with bile and spit
Lacking true insight and deprived of wit
His political judgment isn’t worth shit

Feigning interest in people’s pain
A boring centrist and exceedingly vain
A giant head with a tiny brain
No more free rides on this gravy train

Lost and confused about the coming change
Tossed and refused and feeling so strange
Left behind on the loser range
Too late to go back and rearrange

A sanctimonious hack emboldened by a fight
Given the sack when proven none too bright
Immune to true suffering because he’s white
Never gives a damn about their perilous plight

An overdue humbling so richly deserved
Typical bumbling that hurts the underserved
A discredited strategist poorly preserved
A place at the table no longer reserved

A pest and a tool with no future to come
No rest for this fool starving for a crumb
There are no thoughts, just a continuous hum
Once he was the shark, now he’s the chum

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 15, 2017
7:54 p.m.

Published in: on December 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm  Comments (1)