Release The Flying Monkeys

June 1, 2008

Sometimes I astound myself that, for having accomplished so little aside from using my powers for apathy rather than evil, I have some interesting resources to call upon. Not only do I have connections to celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, I’ve recently consulted a source on an issue that hasn’t gotten much attention – the US military’s attempts to create a flying monkey army.

Forget microwaves, unmanned drones, stealth bombers, smart bombs, and terminators. It’s obvious to anyone who has seen The Wizard Of Oz (which would be pretty much everyone even including that uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian rain forest) that the future of warfare will be decided by whomever develops an army of flying monkeys.

If it hadn’t been for the flying monkeys, Dorothy would still be a house-dropping, witch-killing, slipper-stealing fugitive; she would still be running free in Oz with her gang of sycophants, flouting the efforts of the Wicked Witch of the West who was impotent in capturing them until she unleashed the flying monkeys. So, clearly, flying monkeys is the way to go.

As I will undoubtedly be someday known as the Woodward and/or Bernstein of Flying Monkeygate, I have a source much like their Deep Throat who I shall refer to as Whispering Bunny. When I asked Whispering Bunny about attempts to develop a flying monkey army, they confirmed that I was “not far from the truth.” Hmmm, perhaps they are actually gliding monkeys.

If someday soon, you tune in to CNN and see a talking head – with the caption beneath them reading flying monkey warfare expert (or maybe enthusiast) – being consulted about this matter, it will likely be me.

In the meantime, enjoy these monkeyshines.

The Pixies- Monkey Gone To Heaven

The Tubes – The Monkey Time

Warren Zevon – Leave My Monkey Alone

Patti Smith – Space Monkey

It’s Blue Oyster Cult’s World (You’ll Soon Just Be Living In It)

May 10, 2008

As music is essential to the existence of both Paloma and me, it’s fortuitous that, for the most part, our tastes are aligned. There are, not surprisingly, exceptions and most are remnants of our respective childhoods, rooted in fond memories intrinsic to each of us.

Paloma would shake her head at the poster of Asia’s first album cover which adorned my bedroom wall when we first met. She would shun my desire to put on some Journey – although, much later, I would learn that she had, in fact, seen them on their Escape tour.

And, she refused to acknowledge the unmitigated greatness of Blue Oyster Cult. Perhaps that is hyperbolic, but it is pleasing to know that we are poised on the precipice of a Blue Oyster Cult revival which will vindicate my long-standing defense of the band and reduce all naysayers to addle-pated apologists staring boggle-eyed and cowering before a tide of global adoration that will make the American Idol sycophants appear to be flaccid and inert in their support…well…just be prepared.

My introduction to Blue Oyster Cult came via a third-grade classmate, Schrader, who, to appropriate Kramer’s description of Newman on Seinfeld, was “portly, yet smart as a whip.” Schrader would blather on and on about the band while I would attempt to negotiate lunchtime swaps of tater tots for desserts.

As my own interest in music was a good five years away, I missed Blue Oyster Cult’s heyday and my only exposure at that point was a handful of older tracks heard on radio (mainly limited to (Don’t Fear) The Reaper), although, Shooting Shark and Dancin’ In The Ruins did get some airplay where I lived.

Of course, the foundation for the imminent Blue Oyster Cult revival was laid with Saturday Night Live and the mania surrounding Christopher Walken’s insistence on “more cowbell.” It has now reached critical mass as, much to my delighted ears, I am hearing Godzilla used in some commercial. Proudly I can say I have no idea product it is presumed I will provoked to purchase, but I am delighted at the prospect of the song blaring from televisions nationwide.

And Paloma, well, I can’t say she is totally on board with Blue Oyster Cult, but thanks to negotiating skills honed bartering for tater tots years ago, I managed to secure her blessing to play their compilation The Workshop Of The Telescopes last week as we drove about doing errands. I think she’s cracking

Blue Oyster Cult – Veteran Of The Psychic Wars
Ominous and spooky (but not too ominous and spooky), it was these qualities which, I suspect, drew the aforementioned Schrader to the band. My introduction to this song was through its appearance in the movie Heavy Metal, a movie that’s viewing – due to its combination of cartoons, rock music, and an R-rating – was required to me and my teen aged friends.

Blue Oyster Cult – Goin’ Through The Motions
I first heard Goin’ Through The Motions when Bonnie Tyler covered it on her Faster Than The Speed Of Night album. The mind boggles to imagine Blue Oyster Cult covering Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

Blue Oyster Cult – In Thee
As I mentioned in reference to Shooting Shark , Patti Smith was at one-time romantically involved with Blue Oyster Cult keyboardist Allen Lanier and wrote several of the band’s songs. In Thee, written by Lanier, was written about Smith.

Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla

Blue Oyster Cult – Burnin’ For You
Sure, Blue Oyster Cult was lumped in with early heavy metal bands like Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin, but – due to my frame of reference when I discovered music – heavy metal was music whose practitioners wore spandex and either sang of non-stop parties or dragons. Well, I suppose Godzilla fulfills the latter requirement, but only Blue Oyster Cult had the vision to pay homage to the greatest dragon of them all.

As for Burnin’ For You, quick research reveals it to be one of the band’s two songs to be Top 40 hits in America – for now.

Blue Oyster Cult – Dancin’ In The Ruins
Growing up in Sticksville, MTV was unavailable to us during its infancy. By the time it did arrive (three years after the rest of the world), Blue Oyster Cult was becoming an afterthought. However, Dancin’ In The Ruins would get played in the wee hours and was the first video of the band I ever saw. Of course, the video – seemingly inspired by Mad Max – would lead the viewer to believe Skatebordin’ In The Ruins would have been a more appropriate (albeit more cumbersome) title.

"I’m talkin’ about earnin’ a livin’. I’m talkin’ about sharkin’"

May 3, 2008

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but, it’s damned near impossible for me to stumble across the movie Jaws while channel surfing and not get drawn into watching. Such was the case early this morning when, while enjoying my first cup of coffee, there was Chief Brody frantically clearing the beach in Amity – which, as you undoubtedly know, means friendship – to the chagrin of Mayor Vaughan.

Paloma walked into the living room, groggily rubbing sleep from her eyes, quickly recognized Richard Dreyfuss’ bearded mug, and shook her head. Much of her dismay stems from having been slightly traumatized by viewing the movie as a young girl while growing up within a frisbee toss of the beach. She will also tell you that I have logged more hours watching the movie than your average New England fisherman has spent at sea.

Again, maybe it’s a guy thing. The record store in which Paloma and I worked for several years had an adjoining video department where my friend Rob would ritualistically show the film at least once during every shift he worked.

Here in the States, I am certain that, between three or four of our cable stations, Jaws is always showing at any given time. TNT will occasionally devote an entire day to screening the four films of the series in marathon fashion (and to slog through number four has certainly got to be akin to gritting out the final miles of an actual marathon). However, if Roy Scheider isn’t involved, I abandon ship.

The film is a classic, a wonderful piece of cinema for which I have more appreciation since reading Peter Benchley’s novel – an abysmal mess of cliché and melodrama – some time ago. Every deviation Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Carl Gottlieb made from the source material was superior and the movie still holds suspense for me no matter how many times I’ve seen Ben Gardner’s waterlogged head pop out from the hull of his boat.

Although I am capable of reciting it almost at will, Quint’s tale of the USS Indianapolis’ sinking hooks me the moment he recounts how a “Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side” and I remain riveted until he concludes – “Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

[I fear that someday soon there will be the inevitable CGI-riddled remake with a cast including Keanu Reeves as Chief Brody, some young cookie-cutter stud as Hooper, and Will Farrell as Quint.]

Beyond my appreciation for the artistry of the film, there’s also a psychological reason I watch. It’s hot here. The heat here today was so stifling it was as though God tossed the planet into the back of Her car and left it in there with the windows rolled up while She popped into the supermarket for a few things.

As we are landlocked, the images of cooling waters off the shores of Amity provide me with mental refreshment. It’s almost like I’m there and I don’t have to fear ending up as chum like Chrissy did while skinny dipping or that little Kintner boy (despite his mother’s admonishment that he was beginning to prune).

Blue Oyster Cult – Shooting Shark
This Blue Oyster Cult song, with it’s mysterious lyric and haunted feel, mesmerized me when I first heard it in 1983. Several years later when Patti Smith became one of my favorites, I learned that she had dated their keyboardist and written this lyric.

Tracy Bonham – Sharks Can’t Sleep
Bonham gained fame with her song Mother, Mother (off the same The Burden Of Being Upright album as this song), but seemed to get lost in the glut of post-Lilith Fair female artists. I always felt she deserved a better fate.

The Call – A Swim In The Ocean
Peter Gabriel once apparently referred to The Call as “America’s most important band,” but they never really were able to achieve more than a cult following. Lead singer Michael Been played the role of the apostle John in the movie The Last Temptation Of Christ which had a score written by Gabriel (everything’s connected). Thanks to the efforts of Roy Scheider, it is possible to go swim in the ocean off Amity Island.

Lyle Lovett – If I Had A Boat
An amazing live performer, I was fortunate enough to see him with his Large Band at the Ryman Auditorium (the original home of The Grand Ol’ Opry) in Nashville. This song was always a favorite, although it should go with saying that Quint would never have allowed a pony (or a large band) on the Orca.

Split Enz – Six Months In A Leaky Boat
If I recall correctly, this song was inspired by the conflict in the Falkland Islands. That aside, it’s a jaunty and infectious number, but probably not enough so to have kept Roy Scheider on the Orca for six days, let alone six months.