Month: January 2016
Film memories, lasting legacies, and songs from forgotten films
John Travolta is not the subject of this entry, but he is the starting point to get to what I want to speak about. It’s the way I tend to write – to segue into the point/subject. The subject is tied to Travolta and his work but Travolta isn’t supposed to be the main topic.
I got introduced to Travolta with “Look Who’s Talking” in 1990. I was a kid and the film got a lot of exposure in pop culture by way of the cutesy aspect and the fact stars Kristy Alley (Cheers among other things) and Bruce Willis had their hands in the film (among others). John Travolta was considered an also-ran at that point, or at least that’s how things seem to reflect now. It was a long way from Saturday Night Fever as well as his TV role in Welcome Back, Kotter. If there’s other stuff that was a large success for Travolta between those 70’s entries and his late 80’s/early 90’s stuff… well, I fail there (Urban Cowboy is an exception, I think). I just know Staying Alive was forgettable and we’ll leave it at that.
Between Look Who’s Talking and its sequels, Travolta found himself back in film culture. This ruffled feathers, which is actually my second memory of Travolta that stands out: Quentin Tarantino talking down about Travolta being in “a baby movie” either after his casting for Pulp Fiction or after the film aired at one film festival or another. It was repeated a few times, Tarantino couldn’t believe someone like Travolta had been in a baby movie! How could this happen?! It’s a quirk of cinema in general, for actors to be brushed off or working in roles that seem beneath them because of a lack of offers form the high. Heck, actor Dom Ameche was working dinner-acting jobs because no one would call him and offer work opportunities. It was what he’d already achieved professionally that got him cast as one of the Duke Bros. in Trading Places without even having to read for the role… But it was the first role in a feature film in 13 years.
Travolta had roles though. One of them, his pre-Look Who’s Talking film, is what I’m trying to segue to. I don’t recall exactly when I got exposed to The Experts, but I did catch it on HBO and it’s a quirky spy-comedy that has one immense quirk driving me nuts lately: an intangible soundtrack.
To summarize the movie: Two (Travolta and Arye Gross as Travis and Wendell) unlucky hipsters who keep failing at starting a club in New York agree to trying to launch a club in a small town. They find themselves in a reclusive, socially stunted (read: 1950’s down-home style) place without a lot of normal, modern aspects of society. They don’t find out until much, much later it’s actually a spy town within the Soviet Union. It’s a play on the Cold War and a contrast of culture. The flick didn’t exactly set any precedence but it’s not bad either. Maybe now it seems extra dated – Travolta had a mullet, which should tell you enough – because the Cold War isn’t a driving factor in society.
All of this leads to that aspect about the soundtrack that is driving me nuts: how you can’t find it. While I say the movie comes off dated now, one song promoting Americana can stand the test of time as it’s a nationalism/pop culture ditty called “Hometown U.S.A.”. The song was part of the closing of the film, I’m not going to give spoilers on that… It was quite fitting for when it was played, I’ll just say that.
Yet you can’t find the song in digital music stores. The lyrics aren’t posted anywhere that can be found on a Google search. The song itself is posted on YouTube but the quality of the copy is suspect (at least from my hearing). The artist, for the curious, is credited as David Morgan, with writing credits going to Harold Payne, Pete Luboff, and Pat Luboff. It got posted on July 4th, 2011 – 22 years after the film’s release and yet again fitting as it was the 4th of July.
How common is this in film, where songs just disappear? Ones that stand out to you and yet you can’t find them anywhere besides in the film itself? I’m not talking about Matthew Broderick’s clarinet playing during Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; I mean specifically songs crafted for films that just slip away. Another 1980’s film song that I was searching for in the last year (just to find the full performance of it) was “Paradise” by Kaylee Adams, which you can hear a snippet of in the movie White Water Summer. The only thing I had luck in finding was the movie clip itself and some employ pages / other Kaylee Adams songs.
A song is something that lasts in your mind if you connect to it or what images it’s tied to, or what feelings are around when you hear it. Songs tied to movies are especially going to leave a mark with you if you like the scene they’re part of… And that’s a fact even if the film is a bomb in cinema – the music can still leave a mark and a memory, which can still draw interest (and make the entertainment industry a dime) years and years later.
A social reaction to an aloof social-media status response
I tend to be a wise ass when I set a status message on Facebook, or I’ll play around with pop culture, or music, or share small, small things in a very unclear way. It part of it is me trying to draw attention and yet also have positive interaction with friends. Talking about private issues in truth and honesty, as a guy, is going to just lead to complaints / mockery from guy friends.
It can also piss you off as hypocrites participate in comments.
Monday morning I dropped on to Facebook and one of the top status messages currently going on my timeline was a female friend telling a personal story tied to….bathroom stall graffiti. My friend is divorced, still trying to move on in life after the divorce (the marriage ended abusively). Between that status, written at sometime around 2 AM, and other thoughts dangling in my mind in recent days, I put up a very personalized status of my own – a little generalized and grandiose but the message was honest:
“Why is it the most mundane and yet immense social destination of life, love, is a journey that fails so completely for me? It’s an adventure with someone that just never materializes into the joint trip.”
A private status just went public, why? Because of the response I got. See, with a status like that you’d think to either be hands off or encouraging. That’s private and personal. What I got was a dense, reactionary reply from someone who had been who I had a very stunted journey with when it comes to love. Someone who was alienated by life, had long interest in me, and who threw it all away. We’ll put it that way. Someone who’s twice married and who slept around before, during, and after marriage:
“Love is elusive. You won’t find it if you are looking for it.”
That’d be a profound remark if the responder did not have ties to my statement, as someone I failed the journey with. And I’d willingly open up a conversation on the point – that I had some great leads when I was least looking for romance – if she wasn’t an example; an example of one, who wasn’t elusive but who dropped the entire idea when it was least convenient.
Love isn’t elusive. It’s too easy for some to find to be considered that way. The fact I hear of marriage and babies from so many friends of both genders I’ve known (some of whom I’ve been attached to) is counter to the notion of elusiveness. Even dating that lasts more than a single or few nights, or lustful romances that come and go… That’s something more than what I’m experiencing.
The only thing elusive is what path I have to take to actually find myself in a mutual romantic involvement without being taken for granted or used for the moment. Someone who wants to take the trip in life with me and someone I want right by my side for the trip.
Hockey blogging and blog aggregation
I used to depend on Hockey Blogs — an RSS aggregation web site — for one-stop coverage of the web log world for the NHL and the sport of hockey. A decade ago, when there weren’t many blogs but some great blog writing, that site was a killer tool to have, especially during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Yeah, and then it got killed because of what it was aggregating. I won’t name names but a certain blog that was doing aggregation of its own got its RSS listed on the site and inundated the page with its shared-content, making it hard to find actual writing efforts from notable blogs of the time. Now it’s even worse as a feed of pro-news sites and another, singular, mass-content blog over-dominates the feed.
I still rely on RSS (Sputnik RSS reader) but one thing that my RSS reader can’t do is discover other hockey blogs from indie writers. In days of yore, those indie web loggers lusted to get themselves listed on Hockey Blogs. That doesn’t happen any more.
I don’t know… I once helped run a aggregator aimed specifically at Tampa Bay blogs… Maybe I could start a WordPress powered hockey blog aggregator comparable to Hockeyblogs.org, run independently by someone devoted to the sport? Who knows… It’s tough finding independent blogs these days; SB Nation, Fansided, The Nation Network and Bloguin dominate with individual sites/blogs, while The Hockey Writers, Today’s Slapshot and a few others try to cover things widely under one franchise/site name. It’s that one-site, mass content aspect that ruined Hockey Blogs
My occasional social media habit: Musical Therapy
There’s a little habit I have on Twitter, usually in the hockey off-season but rarely too. It’s great form my end but I think it likely sucks from a Twitter follower’s end because I’m not sharing media as I do it. I just announce it. I call it Music Therapy or Musical Therapy (#MusicTherapy or #MusicalTherapy in Twitter hashttag terms).
The habit actually inspired some creative writing in 2014 but I never finished what I started or even found finality to work towards… That’s going off on a different subject than I was trying to aim at here, but oddly the not-going-to-be-completed story and my musings on Twitter had one thing in common: Music heals and pushes you forward. It gives you something to revel in and celebrate.
My therapy sessions on Twitter, running on summer nights mostly, were just me announcing songs I was playing and yammering out facts and thoughts and feelings brought on by the song at play, or the band in question. It drew in some very good chatter from friends and ran off a lot of people following me for hockey purposes (that’s my day job, so to speak). Maybe that was opinion derived from what I was listening to at the time – 50 years worth of pop and rock with a habit of 60’s and 90’s stuff being dominant, and without a broad palette of songs. Not heavy metal, not hair metal, not rap, not balladeers (okay, actually those pop in at times but still…), no country, some bluegrass (basically just Credence Clearwater Revival), too little Motown, etc, etc. I only have somewhere above 1,250 songs in my personal library (music I choose to listen to) and not that many playlists, so there is repetition going on there that concerns me. Heck, this whole paragraph is tilted to the negative of my mind because I’m concerned I’m running people off when I’m trying to gain some release.
In another universe, I’m a late night deejay who’s been married five times, has a torrid affair with hi-if going and it helps stymie his bitterness at the world… Music soothes the soul.
It does have a worthwhile DJ feel to it, though, and it’s fun when people are there with me (well — through Twitter) to talk up the songs or suggest music. Some actually consider themselves informed by what i say about songs, be they facts or opinions.