Tag Archives: Michael jackson

Friday finds

Obviously! The folks at Hammer Films sure knew how to blow the dust off those old horror movie tropes, and Titan Books is gearing up to release a collection of the best examples in The Art of Hammer, due out in October. Along with eye-catching posters, Hammer produced some memorable taglines: e.g., “Frankenstein spills it! Dracula drinks it!” I wouldn’t mind getting the book, but where Hammer is concerned, what I’m really jonesing for is The Icons of Suspense Collection, if only for the chance to catch up with These Are the Damned, a 1963 Joseph Losey film that starts as an eccentric drama about Teddy Boys in a seaside town, then veers into memorable science-fiction terrain. I saw a butchered version decades ago on late-night television, and those voices crying along the cliff struck a deep chord.

I like Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf a lot more than Jeff does, but Jeff’s right when he tries to bring other, possibly even better translations out from under Heaney’s shadow.

The five weariest cliches of negative book reviews.

One of “the world’s most endearingly odd publishing houses.”

The story of Mad Dog and the Pilgrim, and the best place in Wyoming to find old books and fresh eggs.

For sheer sustained pop dementia, this Rajinikanth number is hard to beat. If the hero from Inception had been assigned to infiltrate Michael Jackson’s dreams and plant the idea of doing a Bollywood musical, this would have been the result.

Tagged , , , ,

What’s old is New again

I haven’t exactly been scouring the Internets for Michael Jackson items, but I haven’t seen anyone resurrect this parody of Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video. That number, with Steve Martin doing the J-son’s moves, was the first segment of the first episode of The New Show, Lorne Michaels’ 1984 bid to bring the Saturday Night Live format to prime time. It was also the sole high point of the series, which ran out of ideas so fast that by the second or third episode they were recycling Seventies-vintage Francisco Franco jokes. Since the cast was loaded with alumni from SCTV, which had been out-brillianting SNL since the late Seventies, we can only conclude that the network (or Lorne Michaels) was chloroforming the players. The New Show wheezed along for nine episodes before NBC put it out of everyone’s misery.

Here’s the original, if you need a point of comparison:

Tagged , , ,

Now that’s off the wall

Michael Jackson may have been nutty as a Planters warehouse, but at least he wasn’t doing talk radio broadcasts from Neverland. Leave it to Rush Limbaugh to put these things in perspective.

Tagged , ,

Talking books with Michael Jackson

Walking down the hill to the train station this morning, I passed a line of cars waiting for the traffic light to change. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was blasting from one car window. A few vehicles down, “I Want You Back” took over the available airspace. It wouldn’t have surprised me a bit if “ABC” or “The Love You Save” had been playing a little further down the hill, but the light changed and so we’ll never know if Michael Jackson was on the verge of scoring a posthumous hat trick on Raritan Avenue.

My reaction to Michael Jackson’s death was about the same as my reaction to Elvis Presley’s death — pretty much nonexistent. It had been roughly the same amount of time since either man had released music that caught my attention, and at the time of their respective deaths each man was the center of a celebrity freakshow in which it as hard to tell which side was more grotesque — the fans or their object of adoration.

I don’t know if Michael Jackson was as bizarre as he was made out to be. He lived in the Marabar media cave, where all ideas, emotions and tragedies are converted into meaningless noise, and his death only upped the volume. As a child of an abusive household, growing up in an environment where cultish religion and show business were the dominant factors, spending his childhood as a cog in the Motown music machine and his later years simultaneously courting and cursing the public’s attention, Jackson would have needed superhuman strength and luck to turn out as anything approaching normal, to the extent that term has any meaning. I don’t know. I never met the man, and all I “know” comes from the pseudo-journalism of celebrity infotainment news, which invariably tips toward the morbid and the creepy. Celebrity culture sucks. It started out sick and it gets unhealthier by the minute.

The only time in my life I ever thought it might have been interesting to meet Jackson was earlier this week, when I came across this GalleyCat item about the former owners of a bookstore the superstar used to visit. Apparently Jackson was very well read in psychology and history, and his taste in poetry might have surprised a lot of people. Talking about books with Michael Jackson — now there’s something that would have been interesting.

Since that’s never going to happen, I’m happy to leave my reaction at this: he died too young, and I remain fond of his music. What I heard going down the hill this morning is the essence of the story, and you can revisit that anytime you like.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,