3 December 2004

buzzing on the entertainment

I've got something of an entertainment buzz going. Now that Nano's over and my vacation hold at the library is off (despite only writing four or five days last month I never turned my hold off) the good stuff is just rolling in.

I've been cracking up flipping through Interior desecrations by the very funny Jim Lileks. It's possible that I'm just tired but some of that stuff is side-splitting. Check out this book if you have any sense at all of taste or humour.

Last night I watched Suddenly, a thriller from 1955 that is more known for having Frank Sinatra as a villain than for being a pretty good movie that gives far more screen time to Sterling Hayden than it does to ol' blue eyes. This is not to say that Frankie doesn't turn in a good performance. He turns out to be a pretty decent psycho killer out to make a cool half mil to off the president, but pretty much everybody is good. I haven't seen the other film on the DVD, ostensibly with Frank again as a heroin addict or something like that, but Suddenly is well worth watching. Then again, I like to watch Sterling Hayden. If you have no idea who he is, go out now and track down The killing (one of Stanley Kubrick's forgotten early films about which I have written previously). It's a darn good movie and you shouldn't regret watching it. I don't.

I'm also happy to have finally stumbled across the excellent drama The Wire that HBO's been showing for a couple seasons now. Though it treads on the same turf as Homicide: life on the streets it's a different beast altogether. It's dense, clever, well-written, dark, gritty, and even funny at times, and I'm enjoying it immensely. Altogether I've done well to have waited and had all of these hit me at once.

Harshing the buzz considerably though is the continued stupidity of HBO's DVD people who cannot seem to consistently stick a chapter stop at the end of the opening credits. Why is this so difficult? I cannot be the only person in the world who does not want to sit through the entire theme song every fifty minutes when I'm devouring these shows. I am enjoying this show so much but when I watch five episodes in one night that means I need to fast forward four times (I did want to hear it all the way through, once) and tomorrow night I'll likely need to do it eight more times too if I know the way that I watch these things.

Then again I didn't pay for this (thank you Columbus Metropolitan Library) but I was thinking that I would probably be willing to pay an extra dollar or two (not more than two though) when I do buy discs of a show if it had chapter stops after the opening credits. At least until everybody figures out what the producers of M*A*S*H seem to already know. DVD makers, just put a chapter stop after the opening credits, please, damnit. This just gets to me for some reason.

On the upside, though, now I have a challenge. 'Roundabout the end of episode three ("The buys") I heard a familiar tune, albeit in an unfamiliar fashion. The song was one that I first encountered on the highly underrated soundtrack album for Batman forever called "The hunter gets captured by the game" and as far as I had known until today the song was done first by Tracy Thorn backed up by Massive Attack.

How wrong I was. Though that album is no stranger to cover tunes (Lou Reed's "Passenger" done by INXS's Michael Hutchence comes to mind) I'd never considered this song, one of my favorites of all time, to be one. Well, the one in the show sure didn't sound like Massive Attack and I immediately (and correctly) inferred that the version I knew and loved was likely a cover, but this one could well be also.

So I went out on the web, and I'm still not sure what I heard. Unfortunately "The Wire" is too common to help out on a search, and the HBO forums don't have a good enough search either. I'm pretty sure nobody else has asked about the song on there, and I moved my search over to the good old allmusic guide instead. There I discovered that the song was written by none other than Smokey Robinson and it was probably first performed by the Marvelettes. Unfortunately it's also been done by another five or six artists, too. So now the hunt begins.

I enjoy the hunt.

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