Out Of Africa And Headed For Hollywood

April 3, 2009

I am a dog person.

I am a dog person sharing a home with a trio of cats.

There does seem to be much posturing between those who prefer canines and those who opt for felines, the two factions seeming to be only slightly less contentious than the Christian right and, well, everyone else.

Although I do prefer dogs, I have come to grow fond of the cats which Paloma has brought into my life.

I’ve often been inspired by television commercials to suggest that our cats might be able to get into that line of work. The animals jockeying for position on our couch seem to have as much personality as those shilling products.

The other night, I brought up the idea – again.

“I’ve heard the cats in commercials scheme,” Paloma assured me. She seemed mostly amused.

“We’ve got one on death’s door (she isn’t), one who’s overweight (she is) and one that’s a feral kitten (it’s true). And you want to put them on a set with a bunch of strangers and cameras and have them perform on command?”

Admittedly, her review of the plan, while accurate, made it seem slightly half-baked.

“Umm. Yes?” I replied.

On cue, Pizza, the kitten (see photo courtesy of Paloma), shot through the room in a blur of fur.

(Paloma brought her home as a stray and she is, literally, feral as we have discovered that she is a Savannah, a relatively new breed that is a cross between an African serval and a domesticated house cat)

Pizza’s mad dash ended abruptly in a collision with a chair. She flopped back on her haunches, blinked, turned, and darted off as quickly as she had arrived.

“So, are you going to have business cards printed that say ‘Cat Wrangler’?”

Maybe not quite yet.

Francis Dunnery – Everyone’s A Star
Some artists undeservedly slip from my radar, so it’s always welcome when something prompts a reminder. I’d kind of forgotten about Francis Dunnery until he was mentioned over at Fusion 45 recently.

I own two of Dunnery’s solo albums and both are well worth searching out. Everyone’s A Star comes from his debut, Fearless, which also includes Good Life, one of the most heartbreaking songs I think I’ve ever heard.

He also was a member of Robert Plant’s touring band and I got to catch him with Plant on the latter’s Fate Of Nations tour in ’93 or so.

James – She’s A Star
Another underappreciated act (at least here in the States), but James did find brief success with their song Laid.

She’s A Star comes from Whiplash, which was their first album after Laid was a hit. It failed to maintain their momentum even though they snagged a spot on Lollapalooza that summer.

Billy Joel – Say Goodbye To Hollywood
I’m strangely ambivalent about Billy Joel. If you asked me if I liked Billy Joel, I’d probably shrug and say something like, “He’s OK.”

But when I do hear one of his songs, I’m surprised at how often I pause, mentally list his songs in my head, and realize that the guy does have some truly fantastic tracks in his catalog. Say Goodbye To Hollywood is certainly (and always has been) one of my favorite songs (maybe the favorite) by him.

I never tire of hearing it.

Concrete Blonde – Still In Hollywood
I’ve realize that I’ve had the opportunity to see each of the acts in this post live. I’ve been quite fortunate that way.

I keep vowing to write about Concrete Blonde as the trio did produce some of my favorite music of the late ’80s/early ’90s. And as much as I adore Johnette as a frontwoman, I thought guitarist James Mankey never got as much love as he should have.

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One Doped Up Monkey Is Much Less Fun Than A Barrel Full Of Sober Ones

February 21, 2009

Amongst the rubble of headlines about global economic collapse, global social collapse, and the world in general losing its mind, there’s been the ongoing saga the past several days of that berserk chimpanzee.

You’ve possibly heard of the domesticated monkey – former star of commercials – who went mental and mauled a friend of its owner. It was sobering.

I realized that this chimp had achieved a level of notoriety that most people never will (one of most people being me which made it sobering). Of course, I think that notoriety would clash with my reclusive nature.

It’s undeniably a sad, ghastly incident, but, apparently, the police report that was filed had the monkey’s owner admitting to spiking the simian’s tea with anti-anxiety medication.

It’s true that most of the population has been conditioned to believe that there’s a pill to remedy any issue, real or imagined. But, if the report is true, what would make someone think it might be a good idea to give prescription drugs to a creature that, while “domesticated,” is best suited to be roaming around in the wild?

If ever in such a situation and I reach the same conclusion, I do hope a little voice inside my head suggests I reconsider.

There’s something strange about this human/monkey mishap coming so close on the heels of the recent anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. I can’t help but wonder what he would have made of these recent turn of events.

Peter Gabriel – Shock The Monkey
In the fall of ’82, I was still sticking to a musical diet of whatever was on Top 40 radio. Shock The Monkey was certainly one of the most unusual songs that I had heard within that limited format and was my first exposure to Mr. Gabriel.

I was fortunate enough to see him live on his tour for Us in ’93 – incredible band, amazing music, and certainly one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.

The Pixies – Monkey Gone To Heaven
Paloma and I caught The Pixies on their reunion tour several years ago. It was her birthday present that year. Personally, they were a bit hit and miss for me during their late ’80s heyday, but Monkey Gone To Heaven is an odd, little gem that was all over college radio (at least where I was).

Gorillaz – Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head
You know, since the turn of the century, I really have had less and less sense of what is popular in music, so I was a bit surprised that, commercially speaking, Gorillaz have had considerable success here in the States. I’d have bet anything that the animated band from England would be one those acts that had failed to attract the same widespread audience as in their homeland.

Good for us. Gorillaz are more fun than killing strangers.

Aldo Nova – Monkey On Your Back
Hard rock was something else that I really didn’t hear much until I ventured outside the world of Top 40 music. But Aldo Nova was one of the first pop-metal acts to make it onto pop playlists with his song Fantasy during the summer of 1982.

By the time his second album came out in the fall of 1983, I had branched out and was mostly listening to album rock stations and, when I could get reception, alternative rock station 97X. Monkey On Your Back was massive on the former.

Joe Satriani – Psycho Monkey
I’m not overly familiar with guitarist Joe Satriani, but I’ve found what I have heard of his music to be clean and melodic. Psycho Monkey has a bit more grit to me (though I much prefer the stellar Ceremony from the same album, Crystal Planet).