Riding the Pork Chop Express to the Past

Music as Time Travel

The theme from Halloween scared the hell out of me the first time I saw the movie (under the right circumstances it still gives me a shiver).  Carpenter’s writing, directing, and composing credits contributed to a collection of movies that helped set a standard for others to aspire to.  I’ve been listening to John Carpenter Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998) for the past few days and I find myself slipping through time (in a sentimental sort of way) each time I press play.

Part of John Carpenter’s success as a movie maker can be attributed to the scores he created for such classics as Halloween and The Fog.  Carpenter’s scores can also be heard  on cult classics such as Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China.  For fans of John Carpenter the scores may as well be considered part of the dialogue.  John Carpenter Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998) is not just a collection of highlights  from some of his various movies (download soundtracks if that’s what you want).  This album is a re-imagining of some of his most iconic themes.  These themes possess a contemporary sound while still remaining faithful to the original recordings.  It is at this intersection of modern and classic that you can find yourself traveling through time (while wearing a Pork Chop Express t-shirt).

If you, like me, have memories of going to the theater to see Big Trouble in Little China or remember renting Halloween on VHS then this album is worth a listen.  The themes on this album have an uncanny ability to get you thinking about the original soundtrack, the movie, and your first viewing.  Press play on any of the thirteen tracks and you’ll find yourself hovering between the now and the then.  

-K-

John Carpenter Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998) 

Buy or Die

Phillip K. Dick on Prepping and Consumerism

Throw a rock in any direction these days and you’re bound to hit somebody who has heard about prepping. There are articles, TV shows, and seemingly countless You Tube videos meant to inform, entertain, and persuade. Phillip K. Dick’s “Foster, You’re Dead” makes some insightful connections between prepping and consumerism that are worth discussing.

I’ve been a fan of Phillip K. Dick for years (ever since my first viewing of Blade Runner which lead me to the source material Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). I reread “Foster, You’re Dead” about a month ago and was reminded why Phillip K. Dick is considered a master of science fiction. This short story, set in 1971, centers around the fear of a possible Soviet nuclear attack and preparations to survive it. Preparations include purchasing bomb shelters that become obsolete shortly after they are installed. Dick’s story addresses the roles fear and the government play in convincing people to prepare for a possible attack.

Selected Stories of Phillip K. Dick

The first point Dick makes concerns fear. Nothing sells quite like fear. Fear can convince people to purchase things they do not need or may never use such as a bomb shelter. Most people of wealth can readily purchase such luxury items while people of less economic means are often unable to. But fear is not a luxury, and fear is profitable. Dick develops this idea through the dilemmas of the Foster family. Dick’s ability to show the struggles of the typical American family trying to prepare for a possible nuclear attack is a profound criticism of the economics of fear. The second point Dick makes concerns the government’s role in protecting its citizens. The family of Dick’s short story is ostracized because of their belief that it is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens. The government of Dick’s story convinces the population that individuals should be responsible for their own protection, effectively abandoning them. The government’s unwillingness to protect it citizens creates a collection of frustrated groups (some with money and others without). This second point has a eerie prescience to it when read in 2022.

Prepping has become a common activity for some and a way of life for many others. Although prepping may appear to be a relatively recent phenomenon it has been part of our culture for decades. Phillip K. Dick made some insightful connections between prepping and consumerism over a half century ago that are relevant and worthy of study today.

-K-

Selected Stories of Phillip K. Dick (2013) by Phillip K. Dick.

March Movie Fest

A Handful of Flicks to Get You Irish Up

  • In Bruges-It stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, a double shot of Irish.
  • Leprechaun-A 90s horror flick with Jennifer Aniston, enough said.
  • The Departed-Martin Scorsese couldn’t squeeze any more Irish into this crime thriller if he tried.
  • Far and Away-Who has the worse Irish accent Nicole Kidman or Tom Cruise?
  • The Boondock Saints-Drinking games are plentiful for this movie which makes it ideal for a St. Pat’s Day viewing.

-K-

A Story About Going Home

…and What That Means

Home is or can be so many different things. It can be a place, a memory, or an idea. Going home is a recurring trope in literature (sometimes done well and sometimes done poorly). Ron Rash’s Saints at the River does a fine job of exploring this trope on a few levels.

Saints at the River by Ron Rash

Maggie Glenn, the protagonist of the novel, returns to her home town to cover a story for the newspaper she works for. Rash uses Maggie’s return to a home she left ten years ago as a means to explore the idea of home and what it means to go home again. For Maggie going home means coming to terms with family and an ex-boyfriend. It also means trying to understand where she stands with the townspeople she grew up with and the town itself. One could also argue that the river at the center of the novel is a symbol for Eden (I’d like to hear what people who read the book think of this) and whether or not a person can ever return to such a paradise once he/she leaves.

Home is so many different things to so many people. Ron Rash’s Saints at the River is a well crafted character study that explores going home and how the place, the memories, and the ideas of home have a lasting impact.

-K-

Saints at the River (2004) by Ron Rash

Koba the Dread

The Pinnacle of Unpersoning

In a time of unpersoning and a culture of cancelation it may serve us well to review (or view for the first time) a bit of history. History is a broad topic, but there is one individual from the last century that is worth a closer look if you are interested in the concept of canceling somebody. Joseph Stalin took canceling to levels unheard of in our current cancel culture.

Koba the Dread by Martin Amis

Martin Amis’ Koba the Dread is essential reading for anybody who wants a crash course about the reign of Joseph Stalin. Amis’ well balanced mix of personal experience and detailed research provides the reader with an engaging book (this is not your bland high school history textbook). Koba the Dread is required reading for anybody who wants to see what one man with unchecked power is capable of when he want to cancel a person, or several million people.

-K-

Koba the Dread (2002) by Martin Amis.

A Trio of Boozy Books

Some Reads Addressing Prohibition

I’ve been discussing a wide range of prohibitions over the past few weeks. Today I want to share a few books that, in one way or another, address America’s Prohibition of alcohol.

Bourbon A History of the American Spirit by Dane Huckelbridge

This one is for the armchair history buffs. Huckelbridge gives us an interesting view of American history through its relationship with bourbon (including Prohibition).

Chasing the White Dog An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventure in Moonshine by Max Watman

This one is for the DIYers. Watman provides first hand experiences along with an interesting history of that classic American spirt known as moonshine (some recipes and distilling advice included).

Moonshine by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

This one is for all the fiction, comic book, and horror fans. Azzarello’s words and Risso’s artwork is a tale a Prohibition, gangsters, lust, greed, and werewolves (yup, werewolves).

If you are looking to expand your reading list for 2021 pick up one (or all) of these books.

-K-

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