The quest for the Grail: Sean Connery – RIP

Rivaling the late Max Von Sydow as the oldest youngest man in Hollywood, Thomas Sean Connery of Edinburgh looked as if he’d lived several lives onscreen. Cary Grant thirty years earlier figured out the essential component of screen stardom: withhold; keep your secrets. Connery’s reticence made him an ideal James Bond for the JFK generation:Continue reading “The quest for the Grail: Sean Connery – RIP”

Ranking Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry’s album closers

Few people realize “Spin Me Around” works as a rough draft for “Avalon.” The last track on Roxy Music’s still underappreciated Manifesto begins with the line “Now the ballroom’s empty/Everybody I have known has been and gone.” Instead of Ferry’s synth, an electric piano and celeste. The latter-day Roxy his emphasize Bryan Ferry’s increased detachment:Continue reading “Ranking Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry’s album closers”

Ranking Van Morrison’s album openers 1967-1995

As prolix and repetitive as a phone log with “Rodriguez” in Miami, Van Morrison has fewer hits than expected as openers. “Domino” and the perennial “Wild Night” y’all know, and they’ve lost not an inch of their power to charm. But the 1986-1993 era of Morrison brought a taut consistency that, say, Dylan was incapableContinue reading “Ranking Van Morrison’s album openers 1967-1995”

Watch this space in two months….

Marc Caputo and Ryan Lizza’s nightly POLITICO newsletter includes a bit so obvious that it’s a wonder they understand its implications. Should Joe Biden win the presidency, he will, like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, inherit an economy in flames. What will the GOP do? We know what happens to the Republican opposition in WashingtonContinue reading “Watch this space in two months….”

Ranking George Harrison’s album openers

Praying to Vishnu that his voice wouldn’t get in the way of his guitar, George Harrison led his albums with fewer clunkers than I’d expect from a studio rock devotee who named a jam after himself and the tour he would start. Like McCartney, he relaxed when the limelight shifted to younger and cooler stars.Continue reading “Ranking George Harrison’s album openers”

‘Days’ finds the erotic in the meditative

Filmgoers with the tolerance for glacial queer dramas will watch Days‘ most erotic sequence a-swoon. In Malaysian director Tsai Ming-lang’s first film since Stray Dogs (2013), longtime star Lee Kang-sheng lies facedown on a hotel bed while Thai newcomer Anong Houngheuangsy gives a back massage. For almost twenty minutes we watch the shades of discomfortContinue reading “‘Days’ finds the erotic in the meditative”

Ranking Paul McCartney’s album closers

This list is an anomaly: few songs have shown up in previous rankings or my own lists. With good reason, let’s say, in the case of “Freedom,” more tone-deaf than“Give Ireland Back to the Irish.“ Then McCartney presents a melody from Red Rose Speedway, still among his shoddiest major albums, and another from 2013’s Now,Continue reading “Ranking Paul McCartney’s album closers”

Br. Eugene Trzecieski — RIP

“You all look like semi-educated cows chewing intellectual cuds,” the dome-headed sexagenarian remarked, not unkindly. We hovered over an Entenmann’s Danish ring that looked fresher ten days earlier when opened and not exposed to the faculty lounge’s also unfresh cigarette reek. Male students at a Catholic high school didn’t understand dishwashing or hygiene. We didn’tContinue reading “Br. Eugene Trzecieski — RIP”

Ranking Joni Mitchell’s album closers

Aging and casting a cold eye toward the boomer icons who mean slightly less to me as an older chap, I find Joni Mitchell the last one standing, in part because the insularity of the purportedly autobiographical material wasn’t at Robert Lowell levels of obscurantism, which, believe me, was a thing then. She solved thisContinue reading “Ranking Joni Mitchell’s album closers”

Ranking John Prine’s album openers

Committed to casual mastery, John Prine avoided Grand Gestures imposed on nuevo-Dylan acts, which limited his range but consolidated his strengths. No terrible songs here, just ordinary songs positioned as album openers. “Illegal Smile” and “Sweet Revenge” remain manifestos, all I want from the late non-genius. The absence of grand gestures endears me to him,Continue reading “Ranking John Prine’s album openers”