Monday Mix

Watched Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events the other night.  It got mixed reviews from the critics and its domestic (U.S.) gross didn’t make up the film’s production budget.  But I enjoyed.  Jim Carrey was excellent as Count Olaf.  I was worried that he’d play Count Olaf in a too Jim Carrey-ish way, but he did quite well.  The humour in the role was more quirky than rubbery, if you know what I mean, and he did well.  Quite a dark film—could’ve been directed by Tim Burton (but it wasn’t)—and not sure what to make of the ending, but still…3.5/4

Of course, I’ve always thought Jim Carrey was a fine actor.  The Academy has a hard time with crossover actors, at least at first (Tom Hanks has broken that barrier, though).  One day Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell will get their due acclaim.

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Looking at some of my site stats, particularly country of origin for hits.  Lots of 1 and 2 hit stats from all over the world, which I consider flukes or bots or spam.  The number spikes in the UK, but I know I have at least one regular reader there.  Canada is the majority source for hits, with the U.S. in distant second. But there is an oddity: a significant number of hits from Switzerland.  Enough hits to not be accidental.  Who could that be?  Swiss reader: show yourself!

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The worst part of writing a sermon?  It’s impossible to include everything without taking up an enormous amount of time, turning it into a lecture and losing everyone in the process.  I wonder if any sermon ever feels complete to some degree.

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My favourite song ever?  “The Pink Panther Theme” by Henry Mancini, for several reasons:

1. Apart from everything else, it’s a fantastic song.

2. It moves me, probably because

3. It’s steeped in memory.  As a young boy in Holland I must have seen a episode of the animated Pink Panther at some point, because I remember seeing a number of opening credits when they played the Pink Panther movies (starring Peter Sellers) and getting excited.  The opening credits always involved the animated Pink Panther character and the animated Clouseau character in hot pursuit.  I loved those opening credits, which included the theme song, because I thought it was an episode of the Pink Panther.  But I was always disappointed when the “episode” ended and the live action film began.  I appreciate Inspector Clouseau much more now than I did then.

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I anxiously await Phil‘s review of the Bob Dylan concert in Regina.  I’ve heard Bob Dylan’s concerts can be quite “tempermental”: sometimes they’re fantastic, sometimes they’re terrible.  Here’s a review by my seminary course “instructor”.  I take his review as “mixed”—good because it was Dylan, not so good because of poor sound.  He links to the setlist, which is largely made up of post-1997 material.

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I’m listening to some music samples on BobDylan.com.  Some observations:

1. Why is it that the best artists go through nearly-unlistenable periods in the 1980s?  Bob Dylan and Bruce Cockburn both do and it’s a shame.  I have a large Bruce Cockburn CD collection, but there is a huge gap in there spanning the late-70s and the 80s.  1978-1986 are nearly unlistenable years musically (although I’m sure he remains lyrically brilliant during that time).  And just at the time when Cockburn comes to his musical senses, Dylan dives into his own period of 80s darkness.

Who ever thought that drum machines and synthesizers were a good idea?

2. Bob Dylan’s “born again” albums are fantastic.  Shot of Love is a personal favourite and, based on what I’ve heard on the website, I think both Saved and Slow Train Coming are worth purchasing.  (I’ve said it before, but I can hardly believe that “Gotta Serve Somebody” won a Grammy for Best Song—not because it’s a poor song, but because it’s so overtly evangelical.)

3. I could use more Bob Dylan.  The unfortunate fact of being born in the mid-70s and not getting into Bob Dylan until well into my 20s is that I have a lot of catching up to do.

5 thoughts on “Monday Mix

  1. Andrew

    What about “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws” (1979), “Humans” (1980), “Stealing Fire” (1983)? These are good records – sure, they have some 80’s undertones, but they overall stand the test of time.

    And Dylan – what of “Down in the Groove” (1986) and “Oh Mercy” (1986)? Good albums, both, particularly the latter.

  2. Toni

    1) Lemony Snickets 3.5/4? Are you CRAZY? Did you sleep through most of it? 😉

    I bought this on DVD with some hopes and no pre-conceived ideas. A solid 1.5/4 .

    2) Is “The Pink Panther” a song?

    3) The 80s were a wilderness period for most forms of artistry.The 60s were about rebellion, the 70s about excess and the late 70s about nihilism and destruction (true punk may not have happened in Canada!). The 80s was neurotic, with technology that had potential but no more, fashion that lost its way and music ditto. It was the cultural orphan era to me. No surprise a lot of musicians did badly in the early 80s.

  3. Marc

    Andrew: I generalize. I was thinking of Bob Dylan post-Oh Mercy (which I own) and pre-“World Gone Wrong” (which sounds very promising). And that’s based entirely on the sound bites I had heard on the Dylan site.

    As for Cockburn, I downloaded “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws” and it has some good songs on it, but something about it doesn’t sit well with me musically. Perhaps I need to listen to it more.

    Remember, I’m speaking *musically*, not lyrically. “Stealing Fire” may be an exception (or the beginning of the upturn).

    Toni: Well, I admit that I was in a melancholic/gloomy mood when we watched Lemony Snicket and it seemed to lift my spirits a bit…that might have had an effect on my opinion. 🙂

    That said, I *do* like Jim Carrey’s performance and I tend to like odd, quirky films like this one.

    Re: the Pink Panther—I’m sure you’d know it to hear it. Try this:

  4. Phil L

    My kids discovered the Lemony Snicket books several years ago, and I confess that I ended up reading most of them. I watched the movie with low expectations because I ‘d read a couple of negative reviews, but I liked it. Carrey does Count Olaf extremely well, in all his disguises… “Hello, I’m looking for Dr. Montgomery Montgomery. My name is Stephano, I am an Italian man.”

    I finally got around to blogging about the Dylan concert. He’s a legend – I forgive him for a lot.

    Cockburn – I prefer both “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws” and “Humans” to the string of albums up until the release of “Nothing But a Burning Light”.

  5. Marc Vandersluys

    Yes, I saw the review, Phil. Thanks for meeting the demands of your loyal readers!

    The Stephano character was brilliant. I was watching some of the extra material on the DVD—the character was originally going to be more like a rough, more brooding Ennigo Mantoya (from Princess Bride)/Captain Hook character. Most of his characters were worked out through improvisational pre-production filming. Carrey’s quite a talent.

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