Well … we are now half way through what is arguably the worst year ever. And there looks to be no end in site. Ugh.
Some things that have happened recently:
– Sat around in a really black depression for several days.
– Saw A&A for takeout pizza and fire pitting.
– Saw a few friends (less than 10) for a short, socially distanced July 4th cookout.
– Sat around the house a lot.
The biggest news of the past week is that I formally submitted my resignation letter to the local theater. The entire staff got laid off at the end of March because of the COVID-19 induced shutdown. So, I have technically not been an employee since then. Last week I made it official that I won’t be returning as their graphic designer when they re-open (God knows when that will be). Today I went and turned in my keys and handed over all the art files. This has been a decision that’s been a long time coming (nearly five years). I have been feeling burnt out with the work and pissed off with the lack of appreciation from the higher ups. That being said, it’s been a depressing few weeks working up the nerve to actually go through with it considering I have been doing art for them for almost 30 years.
But, in fun “I spend too much money on shit considering I have officially quit my second job” news, I managed to find a copy of the 5 CD/1 DVD Super Deluxe Edition of Prince’s 1999 album for retail out of Canada. This is the second time that Sonic Boom Records in Toronto has come through. This set came out last November, went immediately out of print, and is already selling for $200+ on the secondary market. So, I consider this a real score as I got it for $70 shipped (the price tag is Canadian dollars).
Holy Christmas, Batman! It’s been announced that my favorite Prince album,Sign o’ the Times, will be released in an 8 CD/1 DVD Super Deluxe Edition this coming September. The Super Deluxe Edition includes all the audio material that Prince officially released in 1987, as well as 45 previously unissued studio songs recorded between May 1979 and July 1987, and a complete live audio performance from the June 20, 1987 stop on the “Sign O’ The Times” Tour at Stadium Galgenwaard in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Also included is a brand-new DVD containing the complete, previously unreleased New Year’s Eve benefit concert at Paisley Park on December 31, 1987, which was Prince’s final performance of the “Sign O’ The Times” Tour stage show and his only on-stage collaboration with jazz legend Miles Davis.
The Super Deluxe Edition set also features a 120-page hardcover book containing Prince’s previously unseen handwritten lyrics for many of the songs from the era, including the hits “U Got The Look,” “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man,” and “Hot Thing,” iconic unseen images from the era taken by Prince’s primary photographer in the mid-1980s to early 90s, Jeff Katz, plus images of archive assets including original analog tape reels and studio tracking sheets.
It retails at a hefty $160 …. but, damn … I NEED THIS! *drools*
Anyone that really knows me knows that “West End Girls” is my favorite single song of all time. So imagine my delight to see that Pet Shop Boys have dropped a new updated 2020 version of their classic first single. This is so fucking smooth.
The first feature-length film starring the Pet Shop Boys alongside Joss Ackland, Gareth Hunt and Barbara Windsor finds Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe on an extraordinary adventure from the coast to London, encountering a curious array of eccentric characters along the way. Pop surrealism meets classic road movie, the film is peppered with hits from the duo’s first two studio albums, including ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s a Sin’ and ‘Always On My Mind’.
Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
Limited Edition 48-page Digi-book includes a new interview with Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys and previously unseen excerpts from his personal on-set production diary, as well as an introduction to the film by director Jack Bond and writing on the film by Anthony Nield, Jason Wood, Omer Ali, John Ramchandani, William Fowler and Vic Pratt
Comprehensive feature commentary by Jack Bond, James Dillon and Simon Archer (2020)
West End Boy: Jack Bond (2020, 27 mins): the director discusses his eclectic career as a filmmaker and his enterprising approach to the making of It Couldn’t Happen Here
It Can Happen Here: Arlene Phillips (2020, 26 mins): the renowned choreographer reflects upon a life in dance – and the trials and tribulations of working on It Couldn’t Happen Here
Always on My Mind (1987, 5 mins): the full-length promotional video for the Pet Shop Boys’ acclaimed ‘Christmas Number One’ hit, featuring Joss Ackland and footage from It Couldn’t Happen Here
Actually: an unfilmed early version of the script for the film, included here in its entirety for the first time anywhere
As it Happened: Image galleries including the complete final version of the script, the director’s shot lists, Pet Shop Boys reference lyric sheets and promotional materials for It Couldn’t Happen Here
Original theatrical trailer (digitally reconstructed for this release)
With the U.S. in the grip of a zombie apocalypse, four desperate survivors find refuge in a shopping mall. But the flesh-eating hordes, still possessed by an instinctive desire to consume, are drawn to the same destination. What follows is a nail-biting fight for survival. George A Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remains one of the greatest horror films ever made, often imitated but never equaled, and is now presented in a brand new restoration.
UHD DISC 1: THE THEATRICAL CUT
New 4K scan and restoration of the Original Camera Negative by Second Sight at Final Frame New York and London supervised and approved by DoP Michael Gornick
Presented in HDR10+
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono – New restoration of the original OCN Optical / DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Commentary by George A Romero, Tom Savini, Christine Forrest
NEW commentary by Travis Crawford
New optional English subtitles for the hearing impaired
UHD DISC 2 – THE EXTENDED (‘CANNES’) CUT
Produced using 4k scan of the Theatrical Cut Original Camera Negative and 4K scan of the Extended Cut Colour Reversal Internegative
DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono
Presented in HDR10+
Commentary by Richard P Rubinstein
New optional English subtitles for the hearing impaired
UHD DISC 3 – THE ARGENTO CUT
4K scan of the Interpositive by Michele De Angelis at Backlight Digital, Rome
Everyone surviving the pandemic craziness? No? At least we have been treated to some really excellent music releases over the last week!
Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters is already the front runner for best album of the year. It’s complex and challenging … and you need to listen to it right now.
The Twilight Sad have dropped IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME LIVE. I really do love this band and it’s great to see them continuing to gain popularity. My only complaint is that I wish they had trimmed down the two minutes of audience noise at the beginning of the show/first track. But that’s a minor quibble.
X has dropped ALPHABETLAND (the first album in 35 years featuring all the original members). Clocking in at a lean 27 minutes, it’s loud, aggressive, and everything else you would expect from X. I didn’t know how much I needed this in my life until I heard it.
Back in 1988, Bernard Sumner (of New Order) and Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) formed a group called Electronic. On their self-titled debut album (released in 1991), they collaborated with Pet Shop Boys on the song “The Patience of a Saint.” It’s a really great album and you should seek it out for a listen. Now, after the album came out, Sumner went back to record Republic with New Order and Pet Shop Boys went to work on their fifth album, Very. End of story?
So, this is of interest to nobody but me but … those subsequent albums which were released in 1993 (Republic in May and Very in September) both contain songs titled “Young Offender.” Planned? Just coincidence? Probably the later … but I still find it to be a fun factoid (that I probably never would have thought about had I not all this “stay-at-home” induced free time).
Yeah. Things have been going. Last week was stressful as one one my bosses ended up in the hospital and I had to cover all her work (on top of mine) for three days. Ugh. Thankfully, things are looking up and she was back at work today.
I took my sister to Biltmore. I love this picture I took (near the grand staircase) with lots of overlapping archways.
We went bowling with our friend, Chris, at Sky Lanes. My highest score was 86 which confirms that I suck as bowling. Here’s David getting ready to gutter-ball it. 😛
On the vinyl collecting front, I have FINALLY managed to acquire a first pressing of X‘s debut album, Los Angles. Score!
Meanwhile, meanwhile …
I watched two more of the Best Picture nominees.
– 1917 (Technically impressive but DOA as far as tension and emotional engagement.)
– Joker (It’s Taxi Driver-Lite. Just watch Taxi Driver. It’s sooooooooo much better!)
So, yeah. Totally bumfuzzled as to how Joker scored the most Oscar nominations this year. Parasite is still the movie to beat. Seriously. Go see Parasite!
So, yeah … the first Christmas after Dad died. Survived it. My step-mother decided to still have the annual Christmas Eve Breakfast for Dinner Gathering. The familiarity of it was nice but sad at the same time without Dad running around handing out presents to everyone. Nobody got weepy which was good. I saved that for a few of days later.
I was in Walmart on Friday evening and walked past a guy who was wearing a uniform from the place my dad managed right up until he got too sick to work. Dad generally wasn’t seen out of his work shirt the last few years. The loss and sadness really hit me. I managed to make it out of the store and back to the car before breaking down and creating a scene.
Saturday we tripped over the Gatlinburg with Graham and Kristen for moonshine and an escape room adventure. The usual places were visited … Ole Smoky, Sugarlands, and Doc Collier.
Graham and Kristen are big into escape rooms and wanted to check out MOONSHINEHILL HOOTENANNY at Gatlin’s Escape Games. The room was fun and way more high tech than I thought it would be. I felt like we overthought some of the puzzles and that got us behind time with only one hour to break into Maw’s shack, sabotage her moonshine recipe, and blow her ‘shine still to smithereens. SPOILERS: We failed (and found out that Kristen’s desire to win is both awesome and a little scary). But it was fun and I am looking forward to trying another escape room sometime soon.
And yesterday, I was bummed to read about the passing of Vaughan Oliver, mastermind designer of some the most iconic album sleeves of the 80’s and 90’s. He provided the visuals that went right along side of some of my favorite albums of the era (most notably for me are Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, and The Breeders’ Last Splash).