Jaws 2: The Three Amigos

July 18, 2012

It’s summer and that means sequels. So – not because it was extraordinarily well-received or critically acclaimed – but simply because…here is the follow-up to some observations about the movie Jaws

When we left off, Chief Brody and Hooper had performed a shark autopsy and headed out into the night in Hooper’s sloop, hoping to find the shark.

Brody was liquored to the gills and Hooper was munching down pretzels like he had an endorsement deal…

49:55 As Brody continues to hit the sauce, he and Hooper get to know each other. Then, they come across Ben Gardner’s partially submerged boat.

I don’t know if any scene was discussed more the next day at school by my friends and me than Ben’s head drifting out of the hole in the boat’s hull.

(none of us probably admitting how much the scene had freaked us out)

50:30 The mayor’s back! And he’s wearing the sports jacket adorned with a pattern of tiny anchors. If I was the head of state for some small, island nation, I would strongly consider making that jacket the national garb for state functions and our Olympic team.

1:01:32 The shark arrives. And this time, it’s not some chick skinny-dipping that meets a briny demise but a Kennedy. I mean, the fellow in the rowboat with the tousled hair, ruddy complexion, and Boston accent made me think of pictures, news footage, and movie portrayels I had seen of John and Bobby.

Of course, I was in second grade when I first saw Jaws and had never known anyone from New England. I associated that accent with no one but the Kennedy clan.

1:05:12 The mayor signs off on contracting Quint to kill the shark. He’s in a different sports jacket (no less garish) and he’s chain-smoking Pall Malls…in a hospital.

The ’70s were truly a madcap time.

1:07:40 “I’m talkin’ about workin’ for a livin’ – I’m talkin’ about sharkin'”

Quint serves Brody some homemade hooch – I never realized what a boozehound the Chief is – and quizzes Hooper on knot-tying.

Quint is awesome.

I had an Uncle who, as a kid, put me on edge the same way Quint does in this flick.

Uncle Bud had a boat, but he spent his time “catfishin'” and pounding beers like he was Brody, punctuating every sentence with a point of a finger and his repeated mantra, “Know what I mean?”

I rarely did.

10:09:25 As the gear is loaded onto the Orca, I wonder what happened to the stubby, little fellow that was Quint’s sidekick earlier in the movie.

(he probably pissed Quint off and Quint had him keel-hauled)

1:11:16 Brody might have a drinking problem, but he’s got cajones going out to sea with Quint.

1:13:19 Brody’s chumming the water and Quint is pounding back a can of Narragansett. This was of particular interest to me when I first saw the movie as I had the same can in my beer can collection.

(seriously, the ’70s were zany)

1:20:53 “Hooper drives the boat,” Quint bellows, ending Brody’s whining about being ordered to throw out more chum. Hooper, meanwhile is playing solitaire, provoking Quint to bark at him to “stop playing with yourself.”

I’m going to have to check if there is a deleted version of this scene in which Quint clinks Brody and Hooper’s heads together like it’s a Three Stooges short (and, then, he keel-hauls the two).

1:21:22 “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I wasn’t listening to much music at the time, but had I been listening thirty-five years ago – when Jaws had just arrived in theaters – here are four songs that were on Billboard ‘s chart during this week in 1975

Alice Cooper – Only Women Bleed
from Welcome To My Nightmare (1975)

My all-time greatest arch-enemy has to have been my third-grade teacher. More days than not, the two of us were at odds. She was an Alice Cooper fan. I’m not sure if that was why I never bothered with Alice Cooper’s music or rather because during the ’80s – my musically formative years – he wasn’t on top of his game.

But I’ve gained a greater appreciation for Cooper’s catalog in recent years and the somber Only Women Bleed was not only a big hit for him, but the poignant ballad must have thrown long-time fans when it arrived (though, should anyone been surprised at the time by anything Alice did?)

Paul McCartney & Wings – Listen To What The Man Said
from All The Best (1987)

I know McCartney got a lot of flack in the ’70s for putting out fluff. Do people toss Listen To What The Man Said into that bin?

Maybe it is fluff, but so is cotton candy. And who doesn’t love cotton candy?

Actually, I don’t. But, I do love this song. It’s charming, sweet, sunny, and utterly delightful. It’s hard to be bummed out if it’s playing.

It also makes me think of the summer of ’75 when Listen To What The Man Said is one song which I do remember hearing and hearing often at the pool.

Melissa Manchester – Midnight Blue
from The Essence Of Melissa Manchester (1997)

I think I know Midnight Blue and You Should Hear How She Talks About You, if asked to name songs by Melissa Manchester. And, she did a song a friend had written on one of her ’90s albums.

Still, I’ve noted that there seems to be a lot of her albums in used vinyl racks I’ve trolled. And I did hear Midnight Blue on the radio in ’75, usually during breakfast when my mom had tuned into our small town’s station.

Mike Post – The Rockford Files
from Have a Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box (1998)

Mike Post has written about a billion television themes.

I don’t recall watching The Rockford Files as a kid, at least not more than an occasional episode. Finding some old television schedules from the years on I see that there were shows that aired opposite that got the television time in our house – shows like Hawaii Five-O and The Incredible Hulk.


Filmstrips And Fire Ants

April 25, 2012

I must have been part of the last generation of kids who got to experience a filmstrip during the course of their education. If I were a teacher, I’d be tempted to show one to trip the kids out.

But as a grade school tyke in the ’70s, few things were more welcome than being in class and having the teacher set up the projector. The anticipation would be palpable.

For fifteen or twenty minutes, you had a reprieve from the monotony of the day. Sometimes technical difficulties might result in a delay, taking more time off the clock.

I recall several filmstrips warning of dire consequences involving the migration of fire ants and Africanized honey bees northward and, thusly, toward us.

Sitting in the dark of the class room in 1978, it looked as though the shit was going to hit the fan in the ’80s and the insects would be taking over.

We’d all have to dress like John Travolta in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble to keep from being stung to death.

There might have been some influx into the Midwest of very angry bugs during the decade, but I don’t recall hearing of any issues.

For years, I assumed that the fire ants were just another filmstrip lie from childhood like the existence of the metric system.

“Oh yeah,” I’d sneer. “Where are the fire ants? How many grams is that?”

But Paloma and I made a recent trek to Texas and, yes, I met some fire ants and even got a couple bites which lived up to the hype.

I was actually hoping to bump into Willie Nelson.

I want a gig.

Not as a musician as, I am not. Just a gig as Willie’s assistant…picking up laundry, walking dogs, answering the phone, opening mail, caddying…

It would be the greatest, most Zen gig ever.

But getting stung by some fire ants was fun, too.

Just as the filmstrip foretold.

Thirty-four years ago, I was far more focused on the impacable march of the fire ants than music, but here are four songs that were on Billboard‘s Hot 100 at the time…

Bonnie Tyler – It’s A Heartache
from Super Hits Of The 70s: Have A Nice Day Volume 21 (1993)

I dig Bonnie Tyler’s raspy-voiced emotional breakdown It’s A Heartache which, until Total Eclipse Of The Heart hit five years later, seemed destined to make the Welsh singer a one-hit wonder in the States.

It’s A Heartache also reminds me of the NBA championship series from that spring as it was played over a montage following the final game. I’d wagered five dollars on the plucky underdog Seattle Supersonics and lost my allowance that week to my brother who had chosen the victorious Washington Bullets.

(and, please, can we jettison the Wizards – possibly the lamest nickname in pro sports – and return to Bullets)

Kansas – Dust In The Wind
from The Best Of Kansas (1984)

So, I’m ten-years old and I’m groggily sitting at our kitchen table, having been rousted out of bed at six in the morning for school.

There’s news coming from the radio and, then, a song – a pretty, acoustic song with soothing guitars and lovely harmonies – is playing. And they’re singing about everything crumbling to the ground and only earth and sky lasting.

I’m pondering whether it’s possible to – just once – get through a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles before they liquified into a slushy mush and Kansas is playing the soundtrack.

Paul McCartney & Wings – With A Little Luck
from Wingspan: Hits And History (2001)

Sure, Sir Paul wasn’t going to match the impact of The Beatles no matter what he did, but there is enough wonderful music in the Wings’ catalog that would have made for a fine career had he never been fab.

Though I wasn’t much interested in music at the time beyond what I’d hear secondhand, I loved the breezy With A Little Luck. I couldn’t go to the pool during the summer of ’78 without hearing it playing over the loudspeakers.

Genesis – Follow You Follow Me
from …And Then There Were Three… (1978)

The first Top 40 hit for Genesis in the States, Follow You Follow Me came after the reduction of the band to a trio and its incarnation that would have considerable commercial success in the ensuing decade. I imagine it caused considerable angst for the long-time fans of the progressive act.

I had a college roommate who tried to indoctrinate me into Peter Gabriel-era Genesis as have several friends over the years. As much as I love Gabriel’s solo work, I’ve yet to really take to early Genesis, though.

Follow You Follow Me is a song that I’ve always adored. It’s mysterious, distinctive, and hypnotic.


Please Put The Laser Down

April 10, 2011

I half-heartedly and groggily took in the yammerings of the assembly-line spokesperson.

He was a freshly-scrubbed fellow and his casual, yet completely unrumpled attire made it obvious that he could be trusted. He was just one of the guys, hanging out on my television, yipping and yapping.

It must have been Saturday morning and I was channel-surfing for something that would allow me to ease into consciousness with coffee.

(morning is an extremely confusing time for me…seriously)

Why I would have paused where I did is inexplicable. Perhaps I had momentarily abandoned the remote to light a smoke.

It was an infomercial from our cable provider touting some new, wonderful feature that would have pop-ups pop up for products and, with a click of the control, I would be able to pause my viewing and be provided with more information on some product or service.

The psychotically pleasant spokesman presented this new effort in the onslaught to commercialize each and every waking moment of my life as something to be applauded and celebrated.

I lit the damned cigarette, swigged some coffee, and with all of the vigor I could muster in my still-sleepy state, remotely banished this Stepford huckster from the screen.

(some Three Stooges cleansed the mental palette quite nicely)

I forgot about witnessing this ad for more ads.

Until tonight.

There, during a commercial break, the bottom third of the screen was filled with an offer for more information on the service being advertised. All necessary for me to be learn about my options for laser hair removal was to hit “OK” on the remote.

I don’t mean to sound ungracious. This truly is the land of opportunity and I’m genuinely choked up that total strangers are so concerned that I might have hair needing to be removed.

It’s just that I’m requiring nothing more this moment than to slouch on the couch and watch Indiana Jones overcome obstacles and battle Nazis. Laser-hair removal is not on the radar.

I might be often inert, but when I make a decision and action needs to be taken – it’s time to make a sandwich! – I take it.

So rest assured good people slaving tirelessly to laser remove my hair, if I need your services, I will get in touch.

Blue Öyster Cult invented the laser in ’76, though it wasn’t for hair removal but, rather, for the band’s lightshow on its Agents Of Fortune tour.

(or, maybe the laser was designed for the US’ bicentennial hullabaloo that year – it’s really impossible to know for sure)

Agents Of Fortune wouldn’t come out until May, but here are four songs that I might have heard on the radio in April of 1976 (had I been listening to the radio as an eight-year old)…

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
from Greatest Hits

How did listeners react to hearing Queen’s iconic Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time in the spring of ’76?

Were they completely baffled? Were they spellbound and delighted? Did it immediately resonate with listeners or did they need repeated hearings of the track before it clicked?

I did some quick research and found that, at the time of Bohemian Rhapsody‘s release, Queen had only had a few hits in the UK and one lone hit in the States (that would be Killer Queen).

Was the band in any danger of being labeled a novelty?

Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon
from Greatest Hits

I realized some years ago while listening to Fleetwood Mac’s box set The Chain that there is little by the band – from the early Peter Green stuff through their time as a commercial juggernaut – that I don’t enjoy.

That said, I’ve always been relatively indifferent about Stevie Nicks’ signature song. Mostly, when I hear Rhiannon, I hear a friend who would croak, “I’m a witch, I’m a witch,” whenever the song came on the radio.

Andrea True Connection – More, More, More

Anyone that has ever come across one of those VH1 retrospective shows on the ’70s is well aware that Andrea True was an adult film actress from the period. According to Wikipedia, True recorded the breathy More, More, More while stuck in Jamaica during a political crisis.

Of course, the song gained renewed attention twenty years later when the Canadian band Len sampled More, More, More in their delightful 1999 hit Steal My Sunshine.

Paul McCartney & Wings – Silly Love Songs
from All The Best

Though I wasn’t hip to much music in ’76, I vividly remember Silly Love Songs. The breezy little song seemed to be played constantly at the pool where I spent a lot of time that summer.

More than three decades later, I still associate Silly Love Songs with warm weather and the song’s mellow vibe and infectious melody suits the season well.