Monday, February 08, 2016

Digital film festival at the Scotiabank Theatre

Erika and I went to see The Finest Hours, the other day, at Scotiabank Theatre. It's a good film - a moving, involving, nicely made, and VERY old-fashioned movie about one of the most daring small boat rescues in maritime history. But I almost never go to the Scotiabank Theatre, and was somewhat surprised to see that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was playing in one of the next auditoriums over. Turns out the theatre is hosting a somewhat poorly-promoted series of cult movie screenings this week, described as a "digital film festival," presumably since they're all done via DCP. There are a few that I'm actually tempted to go to, like Big Trouble In Little China, on Wednesday; I've never seen it on the screen, Erika's never seen it period, and admission is only $6.99 (tho' staying home and watching the Blu-Ray is free, so...). Some other fun films, too: Labyrinth, Looper, The Dark Crystal, Ghostbusters, The Thing, Dirty Harry, The Road Warrior, True Romance, From Dusk Til Dawn, even Runaway Train, which is a bit of an oddball choice, considering the generally crowd-pleasing nature of the series. More here.

The CBC and Fake News

(Okay, Aaron, I'm blogging this just for you, because I don't want to type it in a little Facebook window. I doubt you care much but it required more than a few words for me to get clear with myself on this)

There's been a teeny (teeny) discussion on Facebook of why I am not happy to learn that the CBC is participating in the whole "fake news" thing, trying to be the Onion or whatnot; I had not realized until recently that they were. I have no problem with the Onion, or certain other "fake news" sites (like, which publishes fake news pertaining to the punk scene. I mean, "Vegan Checks Record Insert for Dairy?" Another favourite here); but that's because these sites are obviously humorous, and as soon as you see the URL and know where it's coming from, you know it's a joke. Even if you somehow end up on the site not realizing where you are, it's usually obvious within a minute that you're being pranked, since the articles are actually amusing. (My favourite from the Onion, here).

That's not always the case, though. The "World News Daily Report" article on Yoko Ono having had an affair with Hilary Clinton would be the best example that I've seen; it was taken seriously enough that it inspired a piece of Snopes debunking. That particular article doesn't seem written with an attempt at humour in mind, seems actually to be a piece of disinformation. I'm not sure what their actual purpose on putting it out into the world is (or if they're an offshoot of sincere, right-wing conspiracy site World Net Daily - I suspect they might be) but to the extent that you can infer a political motivation, it seems malign, an attempt to throw some dirt on Clinton. It also seems entirely believable, on first blush; there's certainly nothing funny about it, and I was unclear myself when I saw it: what, is this real?

And then, unless you're a gullible, credulous dope, you do the work to determine that no, it isn't. Yes, I guess there's some sort of Darwinian value to having to learn to do that sort of work, to separate the fact from the crap, but the easiest survival strategy to keep yourself from being duped by sites like this is to carry around a little internal list of URL's that you can immediately recognize are going to be a source of crap. The Onion, The Hard Times, World News Daily Report: you see the outrageous headline, check where it's from, and you know it's crap without having to think further on it. 

And that's the first point: I would just as soon not add the to that list. 

I can and will, of course, but it makes me kind of sad that the CBC is putting themselves in that position. I can only assume they're doing so because this kind of "humour" actually does generate attention. And that's the second reason I'm not happy: that the CBC is cheapening its brand in the name of clickbait.

But whatever. It's like Harry Dean Stanton in the Twin Peaks movie: it's just more shit I gotta do. This is That may actually prove funny (I see now that I've read the thing on artisanal firewood before. Maybe I'm just a gullible, credulous dope myself, because I'm not sure I realized it was a joke).

Friday, February 05, 2016

An outsider's obit for Brad Kent

I didn't know Brad Kent. I never saw him play live. I don't believe he's on any of the DOA recordings I have, and I don't own any Avengers (except maybe one live song on Rat Music for Rat People), so the only thing I have that I know for sure he's on is Randy Rampage's solo album, where any and all of his guitar contributions (and pretty much anything anyone else on that album does, including Rampage himself) is overshadowed by Benny Doro's momentous solo on "Livin' on Borrowed Time." I don't have a "top ten favourite guitar solos" list that I carry around in my head, but if I tried to write one, that solo of Doro's would be the first that came to mind...

...but I digress. That I know of, Brad Kent and I were briefly in the same room only once, when Scott Beadle gave a presentation on the history of Vancouver punk. I may have been introduced, honestly can't remember. I was happy to hear that he and Mary of the Modernettes were an item and playing music together; I gave serious consideration to seeing Monster Baby, their band, when they were scheduled to play last week at Funky's, though I didn't end up going out that night at all.

And then I heard that Monster Baby had cancelled, because he was seriously ill; and now I learn through Facebook that he has died.

My condolences and sympathies to those who knew him better than I did, which is pretty much everyone on the first generation Vancouver punk scene, I imagine... but especially Mary, who, after Bloodied But Unbowed, was someone you really wanted to see have nothin' but good things come to; I was very happy to hear she was making music again, and now...

But I'm an outsider, and I won't intrude on her. It seemed wrong not to write something, though.

He Never Died: dumb fun for smart people, plus, bingo!

I'm not sure whether He Never Died is supposed to be regarded as a comedy, but it sure played that way for me. It came out on video this week - bizarrely being stocked at HMV in DVD-only format, like it's somehow unworthy of bringing in the Blu. I've been waiting for it, so I grabbed it, watched it, and liked it (and laughed) a lot.

It's probably not possible to write about the film without including spoilers, but I'll briefly try, just to sell you on the premise: the draw here is Henry Rollins, in his biggest and best film role yet (fans of Rollins should read my piece on Morgan's Ferry, here. Based on He Never Died, I hereby take back my comment that "Hank can't act," though, you know, after having seen Johnny Mnemonic, The Devil's Tomb, and Morgan's Ferry, it wasn't exactly unjustified). Henry plays Jack, a man with a serious case of world weariness, who sighs, naps a lot, and plays bingo to kill time. He doesn't have a job or friends or any apparent purpose in life. He has scars from what is, apparently, the removal of angel wings on his back (the DVD box art actually features angel wings, and you see the scars three minutes into the movie, so I guess it's no spoiler to mention them). Also, he has a bad habit that requires him to clandestinely buy certain items, the nature of which the film does not immediately give away, from an intern at a hospital. Somewhere he runs afoul of some mobster types and ends up at war with them. Various secrets are revealed, getting gradually more ridiculous as the film gets progressively more violent. Before you know it (spoiler! Skip the rest of this paragraph to protect your purity of experience!), he's pulling bullets out of his forehead with pliers and snacking on human fingers, none of which entirely prepares you for the "big reveal," which is his true identity. 
The trailers I've seen all contain spoilers a bit bigger than that, so I don't really recommend watching them, if you haven't already. If you'll trust me, that's really all you need to know to enjoy the film. I sure did. It's the perfect vehicle for Henry, one of the more intense humans out there, playing someone desperately trying to keep his intensity under control. The ideal audience will be amused by the very premise of Henry Rollins playing bingo; surely this film has the best use of bingo as a plot device since Bruce McDonald's Highway 61...? With a nod to Uwe Boll's Rampage, of course, except that bingo is far more incidental to that film's story - though it warmed my heart that Boll revisited the bingo hall for the Rampage sequel, mourning that it was now closed. (It's about three blocks from where I now write this).

(That very bingo hall is now a film studio, by the way; I actually inquired of Mr. Boll whether it was he who bought it, but no, it is not. Is it weird that I wrote about Uwe Boll's use of the bingo hall in Maple Ridge in the same post where I reviewed Morgan's Ferry, linked above? Some sort of psychic foreshadowing of Rollins' future involvement in a bingo movie?)

I only have two caveats, both minor: the director, a relative noob named Jason Krawczyk, hasn't quite mastered the craft of thinking in pictures - the grammar of cinema, if you will - so occasionally, scenes that should make perfect sense are momentarily - but only momentarily - confusing because a shot that should have been included isn't; you need to extend him a little goodwill and accept that you can "see what he was thinking" even if he didn't quite get it onto the screen. But that's a minor quibble: I mean, the Soska sisters, bless'em, are even worse than he is at this sort of thing, and everyone loves them, including me, so what the hell. Hopefully he will continue to grow as a filmmaker; he's certainly got the ideas to be a lasting player. This is one of the most entertaing "obvious cult hits" I've watched in years.

The second caveat is that, while more or less satisfying on its own, the film obviously is a set up for a miniseries or TV programme or film franchise or something; it leaves a LOT of story left unexplained, and has a resolution that, while perfect, is clearly designed to leave you wanting more. But that's fine with me, because, yes, I do want more; the premise is so goofy and unique and likeable that I for one would LOVE a series based on this character (but of course only if Rollins plays him; this is the film role that he was born for, folks).

The hell didn't HMV get this in on Blu-Ray? 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Ip Man: superb Chinese bullshit

...Well, actually, it's superb Hong Kong bullshit, but it really doesn't matter. With Ip Man 3 in the theatres now, and a friend whose opinions I respect recommending the original film (at first highly, and then backpedalling a little when he discovered I had actually gone out and bought the DVD), it seemed a good time to catch up with Ip Man. I have not seen Wong-Kar Wai's story of the life of real life martial arts instructor Ip Man, The Grandmaster, and come to the story in a state of some purity (which is to say, ignorance), because I do not consider myself versed in either Chinese or Hong Kong cinema, even kung fu films, let alone the lives of famed martial arts instructors. All I know of the actual Ip Man is that he taught Bruce Lee, full stop. But I keep seeing the DVD for Ip Man everywhere, usually on the cheap, and, with at least one recommendation having come my way, temptation finally overcame me.

Enter it without any regard for historical fact, and, as storytelling, Ip Man is just superb. (Even my 85 year old Mom loved it). It's about a respected martial artist, played terrifically by Donnie Yen - an affable, charismatic, and rather restrained actor with a knack for communicating through his facial expressions a gleeful, indulging bemusement at the absurdities of life - who defends and supports his community and sticks to his principles in a time of great hardship. Loshan, his town, is famed for its martial arts academies (and yes, the fight scenes are expertly staged by Sammo Hung, and are plentiful indeed), but when the Japanese invade in 1937, everyone is driven into either poverty or collaboration, and Ip Man, his family starving, turns to work in the coal mines. A Japanese general and martial arts enthusiast, Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) learns of his talents and - it's a bit more complex than this, of course - ultimately accepts a challenge to fight Ip Man, which is the climactic battle of the movie. You can imagine the suspense generated (mild spoilers follow): will the Japanese behave honourably and allow a fair fight, when one possible outcome is the shame of losing? Will Ip Man prove the indomitable strength of character of the Chinese over the ruthless, sadistic invaders? How will the film possibly have a happy ending, when Ip Man will surely be shot if he wins, and, uh, lose if he loses?
If you don't get the sense that there's at least some potential for patriotic bullshit going on here - tapping into and exploiting  lasting Chinese/ Hong Kong hatreds towards the Japanese, inviting audiences to rally around the film as if it were a flag - then the end titles will probably clue you in, for instance when (if the English subtitles are accurate) they talk about the Chinese victory in WWII, after the Japanese surrendered. Someone completely ignorant of history (which sometimes seems to me to be "anyone under 30") would assume that the implication is that the Japanese surrendered TO CHINA, which is not, um, exactly the case. I mean, nice try, but...

Then there's the "historical inaccuracy" section of the Wiki on the film (knew there was going to be one, didn't I?). Turns out that the wealthy Ip Man was never forced into work, let alone in a coal mine; and of course, he never fought a Japanese general. The climax of the film is wholly fictional. If there's anything accurate at all about the first half of the film, it's completely effaced by the second half, which basically offers a complete falsification of a real, historical figure in the service of a flag-waving team building exercise. Propaganda, I say! Utter crap!

But what great crap! This is a wholly engaging and entertaining film, no less so when you discover what it is. Having seen so many mendacious bits of falsified American flag waving in cinema, it's actually pretty amusing to see the Hong Kong/ Chinese equivalent: think Rocky IV for the kung-fu crowd. I can't wait to see part two, tomorrow, also with Mom. My only misgiving about dragging her along on my Ip Man explorations is that we can't watch the film in its original language, since she cannot begin to process subtitles (I have to read them aloud to her, line for line); the dubbing is, thankfully, not the worst I've encountered. You can get the first two Ip Man films at HMV, if you're so inclined, along with a third unrelated film about Ip Man, as part of a DVD box set that sells as one of their 2/ $20 packages. Not a bad deal at all!

Here's hoping Ip Man 3 lingers long enough in the cinemas for me to get around to it...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Heads up, punk (re: Westworld Recordings)

Photograph of the Ruts by Jackie Jet

People who like punk should know: there is a label putting out some super-cool UK punk stuff right now, called Westworld Recordings. Not sure their distro in Canada - links below are to their UK distributor, I believe - but I've checked out promo downloads of a couple of their albums by under-appreciated bands, The Ruts - a double album of live stuff on one record, and studio on the other - and Infa Riot, a North London streetpunk band I did not know previously (but doesn't the guitar that opens "Emergency" remind you of Erin of The Rebel Spell?). They're high-quality and exciting releases, and they seem like a label worth supporting! They've also put out stuff by the Damned that I want to hear, and releases by the Business, Chelsea... It all appears to be UK bands they're releasing, but it's still all great. Maybe some local record stores could look into getting their stuff?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Revisiting Robyn Hitchcock: Popcraft of an Outraged Rationalist

Listening to "The Man with the Lightbulb Head" by Robyn Hitchcock and re-discovering how feckin' good it is, how much better it is than I really realized or appreciated, say, the last time I was listening to Robyn Hitchcock, circa 1990 (where I thought he was all right, passably entertaining, and so forth, if not exactly what I craved then; I had a few of his albums, then I sold them, then I forgot about him, more or less, until the announcement of his current tour). Man, what popcraft! Nevermind that obvious Syd Barrett thing, this particular song owes more to Eno's idiot glee days than I recall realizing; it would be interesting on a mixtape after "Back in Judy's Jungle," say. Or, like - listen to the very next track on this side of FegMANIA!, spinning as I type, which is "Insect Mother," and try NOT TO THINK of the Meat Puppets (I don't know which song exactly but try "Severed Goddess Hand," say; doesn't that even sound like a Robyn Hitchcock song title?).

And this isn't even my favourite Robyn Hitchcock album; that would be, of the five or so I've heard, "A Globe of Frogs," the title track of the album of the same name, and my favourite song on it, for its unclassifiable, playful strangeness. This guy is an important figure, who has influenced as much as he has been influenced. I bet Robert Pollard likes him. I sure do, but I had nearly forgotten it. Why did I ever set him aside for so long?

And speaking of the strangeness of his lyrics, have you heard "Wax Doll" lately? I mean, "if I was man enough I'd cum on your stump?" WHAT did you just sing, Robyn, exactly? Actually, some people have complained of the excessive absurdity of that line - as if the absurd needs to be carefully leavened with reality, lest it become just plain silly - but it's actually almost a political manifesto, innit? It's practically clear, accessible, meaningful (with a bit of work), or at least moreso than you'd maybe expect, on first blush: the song seems to address aspects of the British character that stifle and limit, maybe, though it's sung from a somewhat melancholy, pitying outsider's perspective (or is that contempt he's feeling...? Hmm. Does he want to cum on stumps as a sort of, "ha ha, I ejaculate on your lost limb" or, "what a lovely, arousing stump you have?" Would cumming on the stump be a gesture of dominance, or, like, sharing? Is it, "Am I man enough to love your stump," or "am I man enough to revel in your defeat?" It can actually be read either way!). Suffice it to say that it's relatively penetrable, as opposed to agreeably opaque (but resonant), which is usually the best you can hope for from him; and it's kind of sympathetic, too, I think (either way you slice it). Seems to me I remember Hitchcock saying  - in an interview on Much Music, I think! - that he wasn't really a wigged-out acidhead, so much as he was an "outraged rationalist," which immediately made strong intuitive sense, but has never made any other kind...

Still, I feel like I almost understand this song. 

Or do I? Hard to know after balloon man blew up in my hands. (Great little video, that - it's like The Prisoner meets the Residents in a film by Kenneth Anger, but minus all the queer occultism. There's definitely something sexual going on in there, too, though, though it's a little less transparent. The Elusive Onanism of Robyn Hitchcock?).

I saw Robyn Hitchcock once at the Town Pump, y'know? Around 1991, on the Eye tour, solo acoustic, with NO FUN (in trio form) opening. The highlight - certainly my strongest memory - was when the rather dryly-humoured singer quipped to the audience, "any requests" (or such), and received back, amongst the calls for particular songs of his, some wit's cry for "And the Wind Cries Mary." Which Robyn proceeded to ACTUALLY, SPONTANEOUSLY perform, more or less knowing the words, but, since he was neither practiced nor prepared, having to get some help from the Hendrix fans in the audience, who called out the chords. It's a singular moment in my concertgoing experiences, and also my favourite ever cover of Jimi, mostly because you had to be there to appreciate it - it's one of those concert going moments that only come once, that stand out in a world of rehearsed moves and memorized patter, where the audience taught a song to the performer.

Sort of.

Anyhow, he's coming back, Mr. Hitchcock is. March 10th at the Biltmore, which is about as close a venue to the old Town Pump as Vancouver has right now, in fact, if you think about it. My girlfriend will decide if the Reverend Horton Heat wins out, that night - we both enjoy him, but I haven't really shared Robyn Hitchcock with her until this week, because I literally have been ignoring him for 25 years. He's sort of my pick, though I could live with it either way. Thanks to David M. for enjoyably covering "My Wife and My Dead Wife" at a show last fall and preparing me for my rediscovery, seeing the ground, as it were; fruit has sprung, Mr. M.

There is far too much semen in this post.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Speaking of Vancouver... upcoming at the Cinematheque

Harry Killas is continuing his series of BC films at the Cinematheque. The one I'm particularly excited about screens February 1st: Zale Dalen's under-appreciated Vancouver cult film Skip Tracer,  a pointed, politicized, slickly paced dramatic thriller of continuing relevance, about debt collection and capitalism and such. I wrote about it here when it last screened at the Cinematheque, courtesy of Michael Turner, and incorporated some original interview material. I haven't seen it since that time, but I'm ready, and it's nice to note a poster has popped up online.

Of Killas' other choices, Deserters also sounds interesting, but I haven't seen it. I haven't seen She's a Boy I Knew, either; and while I have seen My American Cousin - which I remember as a colouful, charming Okanagan girlstory - I have no particular memories to share (though note, I was an extra in the sequel, American Boyfriends, in a scene shot in the Hollywood Theatre, though when I rented it on VHS I couldn't find myself in it).
Also at the Cinematheque, fans of Charles Bukowski will maybe want to look at Al Purdy Was Here. Setting aside all the Canadian literati that apparently grace the screen - I gather this is a somewhat testimonial-rich film - he was a friend of Bukowski's, which is kind of pleasing to note, and Buk was the person who turned me onto him, in fact. Maybe it's a bit of an ass backwards way for a Canadian English lit student to discover one of our better writers, but so be it. It was amusing to Google one of his more entertaining poems, "Flat Tire in the Desert," hoping to quote it, and stumble across my old Amazon review of a previous anthology of his writing (there have actually been three such books, released over a bizarrely short time period; there's a fun piece by Rob Taylor online on the last one). There is a small selection of Purdy's writing on the U of T website but they don't have any of my favourites, which tend to be his funnier, earthier moments ("When I Sat Down to Play the Piano," "The Winemaker's Beat-Etude" - the first about Purdy being menaced by shit-eating sled dogs while attempting to poop in the Arctic, the second about being investigated by cows when picking wild grapes, if memory serves; you can kinda see why Bukowski liked him, eh?).

The Core: silly fun for Vancouver film geeks

Okay: so, there's the 2003 thriller The Core on DVD, sitting in a bin of DVDs at a consignment store where, if you buy 10 of them, they're $1 each.
I love bins like that. 
I've seen pretty much every other major Hollywood disaster film from that time. Armageddon? Deep Impact? They're crap. But I missed this one. Standing in the store, I flip over the box: who directed it? (Jon Amiel, who, it turns out made the clever, entertaining serial killer flick Copycat, with Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney and Harry Connick Jr - but I don't recognize Amiel's name right off, so it means nothing to me).
So who's in it? Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo... okay. Richard Jenkins, Alfre Woodard, good... Stanley Tucci! Bruce Greenwood! 
That's about all the enticement I need to buy it - the cast alone is a dollar's worth of entertainment - but it's not til I'm watching it, and Tom Scholte pops up, do I realize that it was filmed in Vancouver. There's even a scene on the steps of the art gallery, that most iconic of Vancouver locations. I watch for Gabrielle Rose, and don't see her, but then in poking around IMDB I see Hrothgar Mathews, her partner, is in it. I was living in Vancouver when it was filmed, so I even keep an eye open in case I spy myself in the background. 
Unlikely, but what the hell.
For me, even an utter piece of crap would be made more entertaining by virtue of the local content, but here's the treat: as silly as its premise is, The Core is a really fun SF/ adventure/ disaster film, less insulting to its audience's intelligence than Armageddon and heaps more engaging than Deep Impact. The premise: the Earth's electromagnetic field is failing because the core of the planet has stopped spinning; global cataclysm looms. Scientists and astronauts - redubbed Terranauts - voyage into the planet in a combination drill (think At the Earth's Core) and laser, which blasts a hole ahead of them as they go. It's completely implausible, and the special effects, which I presume were state of the art back in 2003, aren't very convincing now, but  the film was clearly made by movie lovers, raised on a diet of 50's SF, so much so that you kind of expect dinosaurs to pop up (I'm not quite finished yet but presume this will not happen). Plus there's a rather Hitchcockian sequence where a crowd is menaced by birds. 
Roger Ebert wrote of The Core, back in 2003, that "I have such an unreasonable affection for this movie, indeed, that it is only by slapping myself alongside the head and drinking black coffee that I can restrain myself from recommending it. " I have no such problems. In fact, I'd much rather see the movies Ebert deems he has an "unreasonable affection" for than the ones he thinks are good, most generally. (Though neither category has quite as many masterpieces in it as the movies that Ebert thinks are immoral and dangerous).
Anyhow, if you want more description of the film, here's Roger. You can probably find your very own DVD of this for $1 somewhere, if you go lookin'. I promise you: it will be a dollar well spent - especially if you're a Vancouver movie geek. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Time to release The Linguini Incident properly

David Bowie fans need to see The Linguini Incident. Ideally this should happen because a proper Blu-Ray release of the film occurs. There's nothing out there at the moment (though it briefly popped up during the Austin Powers days on DVD as Shag-O-Rama). Both the 1990's Laserdisc David M. showed us the other night and the weirdly covered, now apparently OOP DVD he stumbled across in a cheapie bin at London Drugs - which features a very different Bowie on the cover from the one in the film, and steals from the box art for Barry Levinson's Diner, bizarrely enough, despite there being no diner in the film - were full-frame. There is also, apparently a UK and a US cut of the film with different runtimes (the UK version, longer, can be found on Youtube). Here's hoping someone decides to capitalize - an ugly word, but what can one do? - on the current interest in Bowie by finally doing this film justice. It's not a GOOD film, exactly, but nor is it bad (exactly); it's quirky, unique, playful, and, I suspect, will prove to be strangely memorable to anyone who sees it; it has everything a good cult movie needs, except, maybe, a cult.

...Or at least that's the impression I get. It wasn't, perhaps, the most focused audience the other night, where people, including me, wanted to be social and faded out of the film occasionally, chatting through certain scenes, but I saw enough of it to sense its merit. It's a sort of New Wave/ punk rock comedy without any punk rock in it; think Alex Cox at his most anarchistic - say, Straight to Hell, except, instead of playing with spaghetti westerns, director Richard Shepard takes on the "ambitious NY wannabe" romantic comedy, maybe with an end product that's a bit akin to After Hours, but  very, very light. Shepard writes an entertaining article about the time he spent in "movie jail" when the film bombed, and provides a few behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the making of the film (" "Shelley Winters showed up drunk on her first day of shooting, and I had to fire her") and the fallout when studio execs saw the film and hated it, leading to the utter humiliation and pariah status of the filmmaker (he writes of that time that at one point, he "saw Rosanna Arquette at a party and hid behind a plant.") He seems to have ultimately agreed that the film was no good, has decided (unlike Alex Cox, after the tanking of Walker; don't you just love that Criterion Easter Egg where he feeds the film's reviews into the fire?) that it was, in fact, his fault that the film failed.

I don't think I agree! Certainly The Matador - Shepard's most noted comeback vehicle - was a better made film in conventional terms than The Linguini Incident, but The Linguini Incident is much more, uh, singular, curious, piquant. If it's (maybe) a mess, at least it's a hot mess (or at least a pleasantly warm one), full of energy and originality and silly ideas (combat bras? Escape artists with stage fright?). Compared to The Matador, it's the film I'd be more interested in revisiting, though as I say, it would be nice if there were a chance to see a cleaned-up presentation of it, before I do that... Bowie is at the peak of his glass-spider stardom, handsome and charismatic (if not particularly asked to stretch his abilities or do much of anything but be cute, which he does effortlessly). Rosanna Arquette and Stranger than Paradise's Eszter Balint are both fun, and Andre Gregory's energetic comedic performance is an eye-opener, The film deserves better than it's gotten, and Bowie fans should make their voices heard!

But not me, I mean, this is all I'm going to do. Someone want to start a petition?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bowie Tribute Night at the Rickshaw, Feb. 26

My understanding is that there will be a plethora of bands each doing two songs. That might be inaccurate but it's a great idea.

2016: Year of the Living Room, with Red Herring and David M.

So far my two favourite concert experiences of 2016 have been in people's living rooms. I'm not sure anything I might go to at a proper venue this year could equal these experiences. 
The first, on January 1st, was seeing Red Herring at Id Guinness' place in New West. It was a very intimate night, where Enrico Renz signed my Gleebs of Wizagon and Erika Lax and I got treated to some of our favourite Red Herring tunes, including unreleased ones, like "Consuela" and "The Monkey Song." (The latter is discussed to some extent in my Red Herring interview of last year). The band had put everything in their repertoire, including a few Stephen Nikleva solo tunes like "Macedonian Polka," on a numbered list, and had us call out numbers to decide which songs they were going to play, though they let Erika and I cheat a little. "The Monkey Song," my pick, is a pretty heartbreaking number, actually, in which a lab animal sings of his gratitude to the superior race for making him useful, and contemplates the relative lack of utility of his old, free ways ("to think I was just swingin' through the trees"). I think Erika raised an eyebrow that I requested such a downbeat song at the peak of what was, after all, a fuckin' New Years' Eve Party, ferchrissakes, Al (profanity mine, not hers, but you get the idea). She has a point, but for me, it was a perfect way to release some of the darkness and sadness of 2015. Todd Serious - passionate about animal rights - would have approved of it.
Red Herring photos by Allan MacInnis

And speaking of people who aren't with us anymore, the most touching moment of the night came when Id explained to me in the kitchen that the boots sitting on a window ledge (top left) during the show belonged to Elizabeth Fischer. Someone had bought the boots off her at a garage sale and they felt it was the perfect way to include her in the evening - "it would have felt wrong without her." No doubt it was my last show ever with Elizabeth Fischer in attendance, which is pretty fitting, really, considering my last two were Red Herring's first reunion show at the Prophouse and Stephen Nikleva's solo show at the Waldorf Tiki room.
David M and Ozzy photos by Erika Lax

Then there was David M's show last night, paying tribute to David Bowie - though it wasn't a Bowie tribute (see below) but a "small salute." It's odd: a person in my circle chose to go to a faceless "Bowie Tribute" at a local venue, paying money to dance to DJ'd David Bowie songs, despite having been invited to this intimate, private, and money-are-you-kidding evening in what turned out to be, yes, David M's living room. I guess I don't understand that! But it was a real privilege seeing David perform a personal selection of his favourite Bowie songs - beginning with "The Laughing Gnome," from way back, but also including "When I'm Five," "Five Years," "Absolute Beginners," "Moonage Daydream" (aka "Elf Toymaker,' in David's Christmas repertoire), "Fantastic Voyage/ Boys Keep Swinging" ("the same song," as David demonstrated), and "Suffragette City," which turned into a singalong with the one member of the audience who a) knew all the words and b) could harmonize perfectly with David. There were probably a few other songs that I missed. Ten people filled the couches and chairs, and Ozzy went between them, wagging his tail, occasionally pausing to gnaw on a chew toy, obviously happy to be part of such a warm, social night (though not a socially mediated night: no cellphones came out, so if you weren't there, you weren't there).
The whole thing confirms a thought I've been having more often lately, that Erika and I (and people in general) should entertain more frequently at home. Why spend large sums of money to sit/ stand among strangers and consume culture, when it can be shared among friends in a living room? Maybe 2016 should be "the year of the living room." I will get working on it (though it also occurs to me that it might be fun to host a film event again this year, with live music, so we'll see how that goes).

Incidentally, I just stumbled into this documentary of Vancouver independent music circa 1984, with footage of a host of bands, including first-gen Red Herring in 1984, at the 27:30 mark (same lineup as now but prettier).

Thanks to all involved for these two memorable evenings!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

David M's small salute to David Bowie...

Details here:

You have to RSVP him to attend! (Kinda private event but don't be shy).

Friday, January 15, 2016

Oh, all right

I bought Blackstar.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Slightly less impressed with The Revenant

I'm reading Michael Punke's The Revenant and wondering about some discrepancies between the story there - a novel, which takes some liberties with the truth, which Punke details in an afterword - and the film, which looks very different when you realize how far it is removed from what is known.

Punke's departures from the historical record are in many cases inevitable; there is controversy, for example, as to whether the young boy who, with Fitzgerald, abandons Hugh Glass - the Leo DiCaprio character - was in fact Jim Bridger. Some say yes, some say no, and many simply don't care, but in writing the story, Punke has no choice but to weigh in; either he's going to make the character Bridger, or not. So he does, and mentions having done so in his afterword, explaining that some historians would disagree. He also admits to inventing some peripheral characters, also out of a storyteller's necessity. All seems fair and above-board; I mean, it is presented as a novel, not a work of non-fiction, and when we're talking about events that took place in 1823, there's only so much help the record will provide.

Here's the thing, though: one of the major plot points of the film involves Glass' son with a Pawnee woman. Glass was married to a Pawnee woman, in fact, but there's no mention of him having had children with her at all on Wikipedia, and presumably none in the book, either; he certainly has no son with him when he's mauled in the book. In the film - SPOILERS, note - Glass' revenge is mostly motivated by his rage at Fitzgerald, the Tom Hardy character, for having killed his son, when the son interrupts Fitzgerald's first attempt to kill Glass. None of this is in the book. The son would appear to be a wholesale invention, designed to further motivate Glass' revenge: it's not enough that he was left for dead, it's not enough that Fitzgerald took his rifle (a unique and prized design, according to Punke): to motivate Glass' bloodlust, nothing less than a you-killed-my-son hate-burn is sufficient.

And it works in the film, no question; it boosts the drama a hundred fold over the you-took-my-rifle-and-left-me-to-die reality, which maybe one might expect Glass to get over, given that he really did seem to be dying ANYHOW, and that there really was danger in hanging around waiting for it to happen. The son is a great plot device, and helps tie Glass in with the various First Nations characters who appear in the film, giving him a much more sympathetic bond with them. It's kind of too bad it's all a lie, though! It seems just slightly condescending - a Hollywoodism - and it distorts the impression of the actual history, misleading those who don't do their homework, and take the "based on a true story" thing as gospel. It kind of also does an injustice to the historical Fitzgerald, who may have been a bastard in reality, but would appear not to have been a murderer. While not as dramatic, the true story is actually interesting: Glass tracked down both men, but forgave Bridger (if it was Bridger) since he was young, and got his rifle back off Fitzgerald, who had since joined the army. It's kind of funny that a film so concerned with reality that DiCaprio allegedly slept in animal carcasses and ate raw meat, for authenticity's sake, is so comfortable with falsification in other ways...

I wonder if Man in the Wilderness, also a telling of the Hugh Glass story, lies thus, too? It's too bad that the video industry has fallen into disarray; there was a time when a movie like The Revenant would have automatically meant a home video release (or re-release) of Man in the Wilderness, to capitalize on the success of the current film, and it's a film I'd like to see... apparently it did come out on DVD at one point, but I won't hold my breath for a Blu-Ray...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Writing about David M. again: a "Small Salute to David Bowie"

NOTE: DATE CHANGE - the event David is speaking of appears to be happening on the 16th instead. We still don't know where. 

Is David M. even more alienated than I am?

David is brilliant, funny, and sometimes, um, a little unsettling as a performer, but he's totally unique and talented. He's also not so well-appreciated, these days. People will come out in droves to see other figures in the first generation of Vancouver punk do a show - not that NO FUN was ever really punk - but the last show I saw of David's had eight die-hard fans there who were not with the band, including myself and my girl. Granted, it was a Ukrainian Christmas-themed show where David performed a number of his Christmas songs two weeks after Christmas had passed - which is expecting a lot from Vancouverites, maybe - but it was also a vastly entertaining experience. Mind you, his more timely Dec 23rd concert at the Railway had at least a few dozen people in the audience, so he's not THAT under-appreciated; and the Straight had me do a feature on his well-received Khats fest appearance last year...

But still, this is a guy who is not getting his due. I mean, the first time I wrote about him, for The Skinny some ten years ago, it was apropos of the experience of turning up to see him at one of his monthly shows at Chapters Robson where I was the only person in the audience, ferchrissakes, at least until a woman turned up and joined us who proved to be his wife. I've been to a lot of concerts in my day, but never elsewhere have I been to a public performance where the ratio of performers been one-to-one. While I've heard a few disapproving groans from audiences at his more off-colour moments, I've never seen anyone go to one of his shows and not have a good time. I do not entirely get it, why he doesn't have more fans.

Anyhow, David is doing a "small salute" to David Bowie this Friday. The venue remains to be determined. I mistakenly described it, when shooting him some questions about it via email, as a tribute show. This is David's reply:

DAVID M: It’s not a “tribute”, it’s a “small David Bowie salute”. I’m not much for tributes (see “Tribute To NO FUN”), benefits (see my song “Tsunami Benefit”), or other self-serving venue-fillers, though they do provide good value for money for audiences, provided they don’t just sneak in or get on the guest list.
My original thought was a way to do one particular David Bowie song that I didn’t think anyone had ever tried to do in the way I had in mind. After that, I thought that the various David Bowie songs I’ve worked up over the years might add up to 40 minutes or so, and I’d never just played a bunch of his songs one after the other before, so there was that. And then I figured that after a modest little set of David Bowie songs, watching “The Linguini Incident” would be fun and cheerful for any sad David Bowie fan who had or hadn’t seen it. That already added up to a little evening somewhere, even before considering enjoying other items from my vast Bowie audio/video collection (official releases only, YouTube is so common), which suggested a small event, easily arranged right here in the Levellers common room, possibly even just in my apartment for a few people who wanted cheering up.
I prepared what I thought was a suitably humble poster (leaving off any specific venue information so as to stay off any Yelp “Neighbourhood Spotlight” e-mailings) and posted it on Facebook. There was an immediate “I’ll be there wherever it is” reaction, so I’m considering an alternate way of doing my “small David Bowie salute”. I see that LanaLou’s is having a Bowie karaoke night tonight, which should attract a hard-drinking crowd. Maybe any local David Bowie-related event, even mine, can’t help but be crass and cheesy.
Anyhow, all will be revealed shortly. Answering your questions:

1. When and where did you first arrive at Bowie?
1) I first heard of David Bowie by reading John Mendelsohn’s Rolling Stone article about him in 1970, when “The Man Who Sold The World” was released in the States. Bowie was in America, wearing a dress, promoting the album, and the article made him sound interesting. But I didn’t actually hear him until “Hunky Dory” came out in early 1972, and was available in Canada. I spotted it on a record shopping trip to Kelly’s in New Westminster with my friend (and first bass player) Mike McKenzie, and we both thought it was great, with no hype whatsoever. Then “Ziggy Stardust” came out that summer, and that, too, was great, and that fall RCA reissued Bowie’s first two albums (including “The Man Who Sold The World”) in the now-familiar Ziggy-photo covers, and they were great in their own, different, ways. Then David Bowie was everywhere.

2. Did you ever have a "glam" period yourself, putting on makeup or such?

2) The song “Do The Girl” (it’s on “Snivel”, but it was first recorded in 1975 for the initial NO FUN album) is about the early 1970’s phenomenon of chubby bearded heterosexual rock musicians putting on glam clothes and make-up. This was very common at the time, and hopeless for those musicians. Bowie was inimitable, and very thin and pretty. Teaching fans how to dress is probably the most important function of rock stars, and no rock movement ever succeeded if fans couldn’t dress up for it. I did dress up as the Rocky Horror Picture Show guy one Hallowe’en in the early 80’s, though. 

3. Are you going to be mutating any of the Bowie songs on the tribute - into Gorgo ads or "Elf Toymaker" or such - or will this be straight-up?
3) We’ve done lots of Bowie Gorgo ads over the years, including some medleys of them (“Lime Spider Tour”, “Glass Gorgo Tour”, “Lime + Vision Tour”), and I’m not ruling anything out yet. There are NO FUN songs, like “Do The Girl” and “It Pays To Be Glam” that would be relevant, and my new song “So Long, Hey, Kid” is meant to work both ways, as a “My Way”-style kiss off and as a fond farewell to someone that’s gone. There are other Bowie-infused cover songs I do like “So Young” (Suede), “Rent” (Pet Shop Boys), “Heartbeat” (Jobriath), and Rufus Wainwright’s “Vicious World” and “Vibrate”, and those would fit. But I’m thinking that just the Bowie songs makes it more different for me, and there’s a mood to doing it that way which seems worthwhile to me.

4. Do you have any favourite Bowie memories or stories? Ever see him live? Ever meet him?

4) I saw Bowie at the Coliseum on February 2, 1976, at the Gardens in Iggy Pop’s band on April 7, 1977, at B.C. Place on August 9, 1983, at the Coliseum on September 12, 1983, at B.C. Place on August 15, 1987, at the Coliseum on March 15, 1990, with Tin Machine (at what was their final show) at the Commodore on December 21, 1991, in Tacoma at the Tacomadome with Nine Inch Nails on October 24, 1995, and at the Plaza Of Nations on September 6, 1997. All of these shows were great, and memorable. Some even have stories (like being with the girlfriend I was breaking up with in the medical room when the show started on September 12, 1983). We almost got backstage at Tin Machine, but as we were waiting in front of the stage long after the show, local rock writer Greg Potter was being so loud and unpleasant that they threw us all out. Penny was INCENSED. And, of course, there’s the May 20, 1990 Railway Club (“Meet rock superstar David Bowie”) matter, covered on “No Fun: The Beatles Of Surrey” a couple of days ago [editor's note: where?]. I never had a more meaningful Bowie moment, though, than the day in 1997 when I played a version of “Absolute Beginners” (just singing and guitar) at the wedding of my dear friend Kent Lindsay (who requested the song) as they came up the aisle. I really hammered the “the rest can go to HELL” in that nice little Anglican church, rather than swallowing it. My perspective was different than anyone else’s that day, but I’ll always remember it.
 5. What are the most meaningful Bowie songs/ albums for you?
5) As I said, I am about as well-versed in the David Bowie oeuvre as anyone you’ll meet who isn’t a professional about it. So I like it all, even the maligned parts of his career, as aspects of a whole. I know his major albums so well that I hardly need to play them (this also applies to the Beatles with me), but there’s lots of other stuff to listen to with Bowie. After he went from the World’s Biggest Cult Hero to “Let’s Dance” Stadium Rock Superstar, he did some albums that people don’t like much (even Bowie hated “Too Dizzy”, which he removed from “Never Let Me Down” after its initial pressing), but I listen to them all regularly. I’m even going to rebuy sometime (on iTunes) all the pointless 12” singles from the 80’s that Penny ended up with after we broke up. Anyhow, David Bowie never made a “better” album than the first two I heard (“Hunky Dory” and “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”), but I’ll recommend a few individual songs that others might not: “Atomica” (from the deluxe “The Next Day”), “Fall Dog Bombs The Moon” (from “Reality”), “The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell” (from “...hours”), “The Buddha Of Suburbia” (from the album of that name), “Get Real” (bonus track on “Outside 1”), “Dead Man Walking” (from “Earthling”), “Goodbye Mr. Ed” (from “Tin Machine II”), “Bus Stop” (from “Tin Machine”), “Beat Of Your Drum” (from “Never Let Me Down”), “That’s Motivation” (from “Absolute Beginners”), “Chilly Down” (from “Labyrinth”), “Tumble And Twirl” (from “Tonight”), “Shake It” (from “Let’s Dance”), “Alternate Candidate” (bonus track on “Diamond Dogs”), “God Knows I’m Good” (from “Space Oddity”), “Ching-A-Ling” (from “Love You Till Tuesday”), and “Let Me Sleep Beside You” (original version from “Early On”).
That’s quite enough.
NOTE: DATE CHANGE - the event David is speaking of appears to be happening on the 16th instead. We still don't know where. But see his Facebook page for more, I guess!).
AND ONE MORE TIME: No, it's on the 16th, it looks like! Venue TBA.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Punk Gone Green this Friday

Ah, my poor Mom... I was tellin' her I'd come see her Thurs-Sunday but now I kinda want to sneak away Friday night for this gig! Nice to see Floor Tom Jones - I have officially forgotten his real name - drumming with Joe again, and bev will have some new photos... I've been wanting to see Joe do is acoustic thing for awhile now, because believe it or not, I never have!

Monday, January 11, 2016

More on Bowie

If I weren't awake when I didn't want to be, I probably wouldn't write this, but it feels like more needs to be said on David Bowie, even though I wasn't exactly a fan. 

There was a big-haired Goth girl I liked in the 1980's, back in Maple Ridge, who loved David Bowie. I tried, in part to please her. I owned the Changes compilation albums, and at various points bought actual albums by him, but I didn't ever quite get it, and as a young man, I was more threatened/ confused by his sexual fluidity than inspired by it, frankly. Part of me could identify with gays for their being excluded from the mainstream, and I had moments of attraction for other guys my age, but I never really wanted to put on make-up or embrace those odd moments of queerishness as part of my identity, especially in my teen years, when Bowie - with Let's Dance and the Serious Moonlight tour - was at his most visible. He seemed someone who was performing to people other than me. Which was fine; it wasn't like he needed my fandom...

Also to please my friend a bit, for awhile there - when there wasn't much to see - I watched what I could of Bowie as an actor, even seeing the fairly obscure Just a Gigolo, at one point, which you used to be able to get at Videomatica on VHS. It didn't leave much of an impression. Of course I loved Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth, and loved Bowie's performance it; I've read Walter Tevis' novel on a couple of occasions and it seems almost to be written with Bowie in mind. But that was about it; The Hunger is a film for people with pointier boots than I've ever owned, Labyrinth seemed like a kids' film, and despite repeated tries, I never really fell in love with Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, though images of Bowie's kiss to Ryuichi Sakamoto in that film are fairly indelible. I let myself stop making a point of seeing his films at some point, but he would still pop up here and there. Casting Bowie as Warhol in Basquiat was brilliant, and he was great in the role; casting him as Tesla in The Prestige was interesting, too, but the performance wasn't, as I recall. About the last time I deliberately tried a film because Bowie was in it was when I stumbled across a spaghetti western he made in the late 1990's, with Harvey Keitel (!?), that came out on DVD some ten years later. It was called Gunslinger's Revenge. It made no mark; I don't remember liking it, but that's exactly all I recall. 

Some of his songs have always stuck, despite my non-fandom. "Life on Mars" and "Ashes to Ashes" are two of my favourites. I presently own Hunky Dory, and there's bits of Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs I really like, and always have. I spent at least some time last year wondering where the Ziggy Stardust vinyl repress got to, in stores, since by the time I had resolved to pick it up - having seen it dozens of times at London Drugs, even - it had been discontinued. I would own both albums - Ziggy, Dogs - on vinyl, now, if they were easier to actually buy; by the looks of things on Amazon, they're both fetching collector's prices even on CD (someone has Diamond Dogs listed at $179.99). I'm assuming they're off the market by design, so people have to buy OTHER Bowie albums, but sorry, those are the two I want, and want in nice new 180 gram vinyl presentations; I'm not going to buy different albums by him because the two I'm interested in aren't out there, and I'm irritated that whoever owns his catalogue is playing these Machiavellian games with it. Bad faith to the fans, no?
I doubt I'll get Blackstar, either, frankly; I listened to a few minutes of it this morning, and had what seems my typical Bowie reaction: "this is interesting, but..." It's music for people who are part of the club, and I'm not, so... I can only observe it from the outside. It's great that he went out on an album that by all reports is a significant one, great that he used his last year creatively, but I'm content to leave David Bowie to those for whom he resonates. As ever, David Bowie does not need me.

All the same, my respects. 

RIP David Bowie (!?!)

Wow, I wasn't expecting that.

You know, I was never a huge Bowie fan, to be honest. There are some great songs in his discography - "Life on Mars" is probably my favourite - but I haven't ever really done him justice. I had nothing but respect for him, though. And I liked him a LOT as an actor, actually, at least based on The Man Who Fell to Earth. It's one of those performances that make someone a great actor even if they never do anything else (not the case, here, obviously).

All the same I think I'm going to stay off Facebook for a bit. It's going to be a bit of a morbid January, I think... Lemmy, Angus Scrimm, David Bowie... jeez.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Carol: also meh

Carol was strangely disappointing, I'm sad to say. I'm not sure I can fully articulate why. Though I have not finished the novel, I love Patricia Highsmith, generally, and was definitely excited to learn that Todd Haynes was taking the project on, because I like Haynes, too (though never more than I did with Safe, which, made in 1995, is getting to be a rather long time ago now). There are certainly inspired and moving moments to the story, to say nothing of the gorgeous cinematography and terrific production design. Somehow, overall, tho', I found the film uninvolving, overly simple, even a bit dull, lacking both a Sirkian flare for melodrama that you might expect from Haynes and the sort of psychological complexity and attention to detail that you get from Highsmith. What I have read of the novel - the first quarter or so - makes clear that the focus of the book is Therese, her sense of alienation from her co-workers, her fears about her future, her inner conflicts about the people in her life; she's a believable portrait of a young woman alienated from mainstream culture, to say nothing of hetero-normative sexuality, and full of anxieties and doubts and ambitions, none of which really is done justice to in the film, where she is very nearly a cipher, a passive eye through which to gaze at Carol (I'm cribbing a bit from Naomi Fry in her New Republic review, here, but she's right!). Haynes is much more interested in Carol, the Cate Blanchett character, and what she represents to Therese. But Carol, too, is also somewhat of a surface creature; other than providing the camera,  Therese, and the audience something to gaze at, and serving as a vehicle for the film's politics ("how hard it was to be a lesbian in the 1950's"), she never really comes to life as a human being, never really is interesting save as an object of desire. Maybe it's just that I have a hard time imagining Patricia Highsmith - a bold, outspoken, cantankerous, difficult, and rather irrepressible woman, by most accounts - being as restrained and inhibited as these women end up being; I imagine her as larger than life and fearless, spilling a messy humanity out wherever she went, ranting about Jews, smuggling her pet snails around in her bra, what-have-you. Therese, by contrast, is boring, and Carol, while gorgeous, is hollow, a symbol of something-or-other whose inner life never really shines on the screen and whose reality outside what she represents to Therese seems pretty limited. In the end, the film Carol reminded me the most of of queer-themed cinema I've seen was, god help me, Brokeback Mountain - it has a similar sort of self-pitying, woe-is-me, being-queer-is-so-hard subtext that rewards its audience for being evolved enough to feel sorry for its characters, but doesn't really take them anywhere daring or provocative. It kind of feels like a pretext for audience self-congratulation, mostly. I'd hoped for so much more!

But maybe the problem is precisely my own hopes? I had, for one, hoped that Todd Haynes would make the film a sort of a homage to Patricia Highsmith - a remarkable, unique weirdo and a fascinating writer. I'd dared to hope even that he might include a couple of snails in the film, say, since she loved her snails so (story goes that Highsmith once brought a handbag full of them to a party so she would have someone to talk to; how can you not love someone who does such things). Anyhow, fat chance, if what I was looking for was something of an homage to one of my favourite writers. Rooney Mara looks a bit like young Pat, below, but that's about as far as the film goes, that I could see, in trying to mine parallels between Therese and Highsmith - neverminding, of course, that the novel contains autobiographical elements.  
Anyhow, now I've seen it, and I didn't much care for it. There ARE some effective moments, some nicely structured places, some powerful emotional payoffs. Overall, though, I wasn't much interested, don't recommend it, feel more of the same meh I keep feeling when I go to the cinema, lately.

And that would appear to be that. I'd wanted to interview Haynes, before the film came out, but my attempts led nowhere; now that I've actually seen it, I'm kind of relieved.