Friday, February 27, 2009

25 Milepost Albums

This has been going around, and it sounded fun. Here are 25 albums that mark important moments in my life as a music fan.

1. The Muppet Movie (Soundtrack)
The first album I can remember listening to, and seeing around the house and being interested in. The first time I recognized music as being something separate from the radio or TV that you could play on demand.

2. Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
The first album I owned. I was maybe ten or eleven and had no interest in music. A well-meaning aunt gave me the cassette as a birthday present. I suspect my lack of enthusiasm may have, alas, showed. A few years later, as I started to like music, I went back to it and discovered that “hey! I like this!”

3 and 4. Beverly Hills Cop/The Goonies (soundtracks)
When I got my first cassette player, my mother took me to Sam Goody to get a cassette for it. I talked her into getting both for me. I ended up listening to these a lot; these were my first heavy-rotation albums. They also foreshadowed my future love for film music, as my favorite tracks on each were the instrumental “Axel F” and the bit of Dave Grusin scoring at the end of that album.

5 and 6. Invisible Touch, Genesis/Fore!, Huey Luis and the News
The first “pop” albums I got hooked on. I would lie on my bed with my tape player and play one after the other, night after night. The first albums I memorized. (I was young!)

7. The Joshua Tree, U2
When “With or Without You” hit big I was annoyed by its constant presence on MTV. A few months later though, something happened. I was into it. And I liked the other two singles too – especially the sweep of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” So I biked down to Ridgewood to buy the cassette. First album I bought with my own money. And still my favorite album, by anyone.

8. Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice
My father had the original concept album on LP. I taped it to cassette, and to this day can remember the few skips I inadvertently recorded. The first theater music I fell in love with.

9. The Best of the Police
My father got me this for Christmas (I was maybe 13?). I had only the dimmest sense of who the Police were, and was kind of annoyed that he wasted a Christmas gift on such nonsense. But then I listened – and found I knew (and liked!) almost all the songs. I still think of this as the broadening of my musical taste, the realization that I liked stuff I didn’t know I liked.

10. The Lonesome Jubilee, John Mellencamp
Same story. My mother got me this one and I was nonplussed. I only knew that “Paper in Fire” song from the radio, which she knew I liked. But that didn’t mean I would like a whole album of his stuff! Except, as it turned out, it did. Ever since, I’ve been an album guy, not a singles guy.

11. Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim
We did the show in high school and I listened to the score over and over. I had no idea at the time, but an obsession with Sondheim’s genius had begun.

12. Achtung Baby, U2
By the time this was released I had become a huge U2 fan, had all their albums, and had inducted my sister into the cult. This was the first album I remember waiting for. We knew the release date, and went to get the CD the day it was released. Put it on in that same cassette player in my room. Listened. And were confused. This was not U2. This was some strange, noisy thing. But then we listened again. And again. And realized how good it was – once you found that essential “U2” spirit in the new sounds. This is the album that showed me artists can change, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

13. Spike, Elvis Costello
“Veronica” had been on the radio and I had liked it. I knew Costello otherwise only from the snippet of “Watching the Detectives” that was played on some Time-Life collection commercial. But the cassette was in a bargain bin at a store at college for $5. So I grabbed it. And became an instant Elvis Costello fan. I kind of think of my musical appreciation as having two phases. This marked the beginning of phase two.

14. The Soul Cages, Sting
This was the first album I dug into the bones of. I loved it enough to buy the piano/vocal book, and very clumsily would play through certain songs, getting a sense of the chord structures and how they worked. I don’t really play guitar or piano (just enough to play some chords), so this was the first time I’ve understood music in this sense.

15 and 16. Mahler’s 9th Symphony and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
I got the Mahler out of the library on a whim (mostly I think because Sondheim name-checked Mahler in Company) and was blown away by the music. The Beethoven I did in college (singing in the chorus), and I fell in love with it that way. Such a remarkable, big, piece of music, and something I own multiple versions of. These albums will always represent to me my discovery of classical music.

17. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
I was browsing in a Borders, killing time, and this was on a listening station. I put the headphones on and gave it a listen. After hearing 30 seconds I bought the CD. That’s never happened to me. My jazz gateway drug.

18. Star Wars, John Williams
When the movies were re-released in 1997 I got the full soundtracks they were releasing. 2 discs each. I had always loved Williams’ stuff, but this was turning a corner. The start of my film score obsession.

19. Floyd Collins, Adam Guettel
Bought on a whim at the Virgin Music store in Times Square while on a break at work. I listened to this dozens of times, and couldn’t get enough of the inspired mix of folk/bluegrass and Broadway. This CD started me down a road of more current theater music, and now almost all the theater music I get is by new composers (aside from Sondheim, of course).

20. OK Computer, Radiohead
15 years after I made her into a U2 fan, my sister returned the favor and got me into Radiohead. Nice.

21. Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan
I had “Highway 61” from years back, but didn’t like it. Can’t remember why I got this, but it was like a revelation – oh, THAT’S why people revere Dylan like they do!! I went back to Highway 61 and kept building, and still have more to go. Dylan is the 20th Century Shakespeare, and we get to hear him, even see him perform live! How lucky are we! (Dylan may have supplanted U2 as my #1 musical obsession, actually. Shhh, it’s a secret).

22. Neon Bible, Arcade Fire
Got the CD out of the library on a whim and fell in love. One of the few current acts I’ve really gotten into. Reminded me that you can’t rest on all the old artists you love. You have to make room for new ones.

23. De Profundis, Arvo Part
I went to see the Rutgers Glee Club after I graduated and they did an Arvo Part piece that I was astonished by. Bought this CD and haven’t looked back – Part is easily my favorite contemporary composer.

24. Ella Fitzgerald, The Best of the Songbooks
I had heard for years about how great Ella was, and when I got this I was almost surprised – I was expecting a bigger, “prettier” voice. But soon enough she taught me what jazz singing was about.

25. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi
It doesn’t need to be Christmastime to play this album. Just a singular piece of work that makes me happy every damn time I hear it.

Until Whenever

Thursday, February 26, 2009

U2 Ranked - #s 119-128

128. "Lady With The Spinning Head" – “Even Better than the Real Thing” B-Side
A few U2 B-sides that have turned up are pretty clearly just earlier versions of songs that made the album. Such is the case with this upbeat song, which sounds like a happier shiny version of “The Fly.” Nonetheless, this is one of U2 fandom’s more popular “lost” songs, and it’s dance rhythms and catchy hook make it a fun, if in the end lightweight, bit of pop.

127. "With A Shout" - October
I really like Larry’s rapid drumming in this song, with rapid-fire bursts of sound. I think the tempo and momentum start and stop too much, but those fast parts have a great, propulsive energy. It’s the slower, grinding bass-driven chorus that doesn’t quite work for me.

126. "Trash, Trampoline And The Party Girl" – Boy-era B-Side
U2 has trouble pulling off these light, strummed novelty-type songs. Still, this one, which gained fame outside the proportions warranted due to its inclusion in the Live at Red Rocks video and EP, is charming enough. I’ve always liked the way Bono and the Edge sing/play the same melody in unison on the bridge.

125. "Tomorrow" – October
This song features one of the Irish band’s very few forays into Irish-sounding music, and prominently features a mournful Irish Uillean pipes melody line. It’s a pretty, slow song that kicks up into a more traditional U2 jam there at the end.

124. "I Fall Down" – October
A kind of “New Year’s Day” precursor in the way that it very nicely integrates piano and guitar. The angry “I Fall Down” chorus comes across today as a bit silly, but the up-and-down piano figure is a keeper.

123. “Your Blue Room” – Passengers – Original Soundtracks: 1
This slow, moody, hushed song is one of only two real “songs” to emerge from the experimental Passengers project, and it’s a very subtle piece of work, all washed-out effect and quiet power. I really like the churchy organ and laid-back beat, but it’s really the effect of Bono’s almost-whispered singing that really makes the song.

122. “Promenade” – The Unforgettable Fire
Whereas the other experimental songs from this album (“Elvis Presley and America” and “4th of July”) largely fail, this one works. The simple, echoing guitar and atmospheric synths never really add up to much, but Bono’s contemplative delivery really sells the song.

121. "Falling At Your Feet" – The Million-Dollar Hotel
Bono wrote the screenplay to this film and he and the band are all over the soundtrack. This is a solid little list song, reminiscent of better songs like “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World,” but, deliberately I think, more modest in scope. The bridge is what makes the song for me – those sing-songy “all fall downs” come across as kind of sweet.

120. "Walk To The Water" – "With or Without You" B-Side
U2 in a trancey, laid-back vibe. Kind of a more melodic and relaxed cousin to “Miami,” what with the near-spoken verse, but elevated above that song by the simple-but-effective “walk to the water” choruses and some interesting harmonic changes in the Edge’s arpeggiated background guitar wash.

119. "Fast Cars" – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
The vaguely Middle Eastern guitar figure and the shouts by the band kind of prefigure some of the sounds coming out of the new album. I like the belly-dancing vibe coming off of the chorus and the slightly exotic feel of this song, even if in the end it never really takes off.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Three by Three

Three things I liked about Gattaca.
  • The concept and execution of a near-future society in which your genetic code serves as the basis for a new class system. It's a neat concept, and a very believable one. The scene in the beginning, with the nurse taking the just-born baby's blood and dispassionately reciting its chances of contracting major diseases was chilling.
  • Its depiction of such a society as a somewhat sterile place. It makes sense to me that in a society where so much is predestined, much of the drama that makes the human race interesting would be leached away.
  • The murder mystery, which is nicely woven into the larger story, and which reminded me of Asimov.

Three things I did not like about Gattaca.

  • That the lead detective turns out to be Vincent's brother. Contrived and didn't add much.
  • While the idea of a non-genetically ideal person stealing a genetically gifted's identity is neat, the execution pushed credibility to the breaking point. He had his legs cut off to gain 4 inches? How does that even work? And the daily scrubbing of the skin and hair to minimize biological evidence seemed silly - no amount of scrubbing is going to prevent you from dropping hairs and skin cells, is it?
  • The Jude Law character in general - I found the notion that a genetically gifted person would become a useless part of society just because he was in a wheelchair hard to swallow. And the suicide at the end just didn't land. I didn't buy it, or care.

Until Whenever

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am not an audiophile. I listen to mp3s almost exclusively now, the speakers on my computer came with it, and my beautiful new flatscreen TV is hooked up to an eight-year old Dolby 2.0 system.

But I am curious. I hear all the time that CD sound is superior to standard mp3 sound. OK. But can I tell the difference? So, I pulled my Achtung Baby CD out of my CD drawer and put it into my DVD player, which is hooked up to the stereo. I then put my iPod on "Zoo Station" and plugged it into the iPod jack that feeeds into the same stereo. To accommodate the iPod, DVD player, and TV I've got a switcher plugged into the stero. So i was able to, with the push of a button, switch from the CD to the iPod. And back and forth.

Now, I wasn't able to get the volumes synced, so that the CD was louder than the iPod. But still, the sound did sound richer, deeper, fuller. I'm still not convinced how much was quality and how much was simple volume. Like I said, I'm no audiophile. But I was surprised to hear a difference. I'm not going back to CDs - I do too much listening on the train, and I'm not going back to sorting CDs for the car. But I might just be more inclined to pull out a CD and listen at home. And that's a good thing.

Until Whenever
Reason I Love the Internet #2,392

In 17 days, the new U2 album, No Line on the Horizon, will be released.

Nine years ago, when All That You Can't Leave Behind was released, I had to wait until the day of its release to hear it. I had to drive out to the local Tower, buy the CD, and put in in the CD player - starting with the CD player in the car on the way home from said record store.

Today, as we speak, I am listening to the U2 album while I work, as it streams on MySpace. By the time I purchase the actual CD (which I will - see a forthcoming post on why), I will have listened to it at least several times already.

I love the Internet

Until Whenever

Monday, February 16, 2009

U2 Ranked - #s 129 - 138

138. Drowning Man - War
A simple guitar-strummed figure alongside a fey martial beat, with a meandering Bono vocal on top. Not a bad song, and it does evoke a nice mood, but in the end it never really goes anywhere. U2 would later learn how to do a much better job with this kind of repetitive, simple song - see Zooropa's "The First Time."

137. Elvis Presley And America - The Unforgettable Fire
This song, famously, is an improvised first cut that the bane decided to leave as is. Bad idea. There's the germs of some interesting ideas here, poking their heads out from the muddled musical swamp they are stuck in, but the band really would have been much better served had they played with this more. As great as U2 is live, they're really not the kind of band that can jam and produce full-fleshed songs from the ether. They have to work at it.

136. Wave Of Sorrow (Birdland) - The Joshua Tree (cut track)
I like this song, but not nearly as much as I expected to, what with all of the hype that came with it when the band re-released The Joshua Tree. (Bono had to rerecord vocals for it, making it feel like some long-lost gem.) U2 can pull off piano-based songs on occasion, but here it's just a bit by the numbers.

135. Miami - Pop
This song pissed off a lot of U2 fans when Pop came out, with its near-spoken choruses over a fuzzy drum track, then a distortion-laden static rhythmic figure. You can see where they were going with it, but it's not a track that's aging well.

134. The Playboy Mansion - Pop
I very much like the laid-back, sunnin' on a beach vibe this song has; it's a mood and groove the band almost never plays in. And I like the way the chorus shakes loose, but in the end it will never be a favorite - it's just a little too relaxed for U2.

133. Scarlet - October
There's a definite Biblical feel to this song, a grandiose feel derived from the stately drums and the chiming piano, and the simple repeated "rejoice." A very lovely bit of more-overtly Christian rock before the band would figure out how to express its faith and much more oblique - and interesting - ways.

132. I Threw A Brick Through A Window - October
A classic U2 song and concert staple from the early years. This is one of many, many indelible, simple Edge riffs that will be featured on this list. What I like about this song is the energy it has, the way that it creates a kind of impulsive, excited beat even though the tempo is pretty slow. It also, for what it's worth, features that rarest of beasts - the Adam bass solo.

131. North And South Of The River - B-Side (Staring at the Sun)
This is a song that faced no injustice in being relegated to a b-side. A bouncy, shimmery beat over which play some basic piano chords. The synths that come in partway don't save it. Still, I like the simple yet impassioned vocal Bono gives it, and it's sweetly resigned little melody.

130. Fire - The Unforgettable Fire
And the songs I really like start. I like the quiet, cinematic opening; I like the dramatic strings, and I like the insistent, somehow sinister bass line. But I especially like how they open the song up at the chorus, with a chiming, yearning hopeful quality. And I especially like how in the bridge they take the song to a new, almost mystical level - "And if the mountain should crumble or disappear into the sea. Not at ear, no not I." Chills. (OK, the synth orchestra hits are kind of cheesy.)

129. Like A Song... - War
And now we're getting to some good, classic U2. Listen to the mini-guitar solo that comes after the first verse. That's classic U2. And listen to Larry's impassioned drumming here - he's kind of kicking some ass on this track, right? Most of all, this song hits that right blend of straight-ahead rock interspersed with echoey, slower sections that U2 does very well.

Until Whenever

Friday, February 13, 2009

Project X

A few weeks back, the good folks over at A List of Things Thrown Ten Minutes Ago linked to a list by JBev at JamsBio magazine, in which the writer ranked, in order, all 185 original Beatles songs. Now, I'm not the world's biggest Beatles fan, so the specifics of this list didn't hold too much interest for me. But the idea of the list most certainly did. And it got me to thinking, of course, of doing one for U2. And I have.

Before I dive into the list, some criteria. I haven't included every single B-side or cut single that's cropped up somewhere or other, simply because I don't actually have all of them. I also haven't included covers. I also didn't include the songs from the Passengers album, aside from the two songs that are really U2 songs - "Your Blue Room" and "Miss Sarajevo." Nonetheless, this is a pretty comprehensive list.

148. 4th Of July - The Unforgettable Fire
This is it. The worst U2 song in this list. U2 doesn't do many instrumentals, and this meandering, ambient piece, while pretty enough, never goes anywhere or develops into anything interesting. It's just a plodding bass figure with echoey guitars sweeping over it in waves. This is from The Unforgettable Fire, and the Eno influence is front and center. When I was younger I convinced myself that this was a great piece of music, moody and deep, but, well, I was wrong.

147. Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk/Korova 1 -"The Fly" B-Side
This song was written for a stage version, I think, of A Clockwork Orange, and it's insistent guitar figure marks it as a U2 song. The boy soprano is a bit trite, rather than as evocative as he's supposed to be, the whole thing just kind of descends (hah!) into a sub-par, grungey, industrial thing at the end. Not one for the ages.

146. Love Comes Tumbling - Wide Awake in America
Wide Awake in America was a short EP put out in between The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree that featured two live tracks and two cut songs. This is one of the cut songs, and it sounds like the kind of song you would write if you were trying to do a U2 parody. Ringing guitar, Bono singing intently - it all feels very by the books.

145. Two Hearts Beat As One - War
I believe this one was actually something of a hit eat, but the big, happy chorus always struck me as sort of fake and overly poppy, and not really U2. Also, the lyric is about as facile as you can get. Two hearts beat as one. Yes, we get it.

144. Deep In The Heart - "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - B-Side
When people talk about U2 songs being mind-numbingly repetitive, this is what they mean. Just kind of droning really, and a case for leaving some cut songs where you found them.

143. The Three Sunrises - Wide Awake in America
Another cut song, another lackluster piece of music. To be fair, the release in the chorus here is kind of nice, and the simple joy of the song kind of works. Still, a song about how nice it is when the sun rises is hardly groundbreaking.

142. The Ocean - Boy
It's, as you can see, my least favorite Boy song, but I have to admit to liking the quiet moody vibe they get at here. That sad, descending guitar figure works, and, as much as I hate to admit it, the quiet ocean sound effects in the background do work. This is a slight song, but at 1:35, it doesn't overstay its welcome.

141. Spanish Eyes - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - B-Side
I still remember seeing this song on those little jukeboxes they used to have in diners. It's a pretty straightforward U2 song, with Bono throwing a bit too much grit into his voice at parts. When he sings "And I LOVE the way she talks to me," he sounds like he's doing a parody of himself.

140. The Refugee - War
This isn't a bad song, but it just kind of doesn't really hang together in the end. The percussion-only opening, the pretty weakly brewed slide guitar, the U2-by-the-book chorus; the parts never really add up.

139. Numb - Zooropa
One of only three U2 songs with lead vocals by the Edge, this experimental, deliberately monotonous, numbing piece of music is well-executed, and kind of fun what with the Bono fat lady falsetto coming in, and the tongue-in-cheek simplicity of that guitar riff, but in the end not something you look to listen to over and over.

Until Whenever

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ten TV Things That Made Me Grin Recently


1. Smash calls Mama Smash "Mommy" when he gets into college on Friday Night Lights
2. Smash thanks Coach Taylor for all he's done on Friday Night Lights
3. Reading that FX might do a TV show based on Brian Michael Bendis' Powers comic
4. The 13th time Adama reacted to a shock or threat with stone-faced hard-assery on Battlestar Galactica.
5. Seeing young Rousseou (sp?) on Lost
6. Seeing Jin on Lost
7. Bill Hendrickson has a moral epiphany and realizes that the prophet must be put down on Big Love
8. U2 does "Get On your Boots" for the first time live on the Grammys

9. Radiohead does a remarkable version of "15 steps" with full marching band (minus the actual marching) the Grammys

10. Matt and his mother kind-of-sort-of bond on Friday Night Lights

Until Whenever

Friday, February 06, 2009


As I posted about a few weeks back, we've entered the world of hi-def. 40inch Samsung, 720p, Hi-Def cable. and it's great. But, man, do you get spoiled quickly.

A few weeks back I started watching I Am Legend (which was, for the first 45 minutes I got through, anyway, much better than I expected.) on HBO OnDemand. Last night, I went back to the OnDemand site to call the movie back up. And it was only then that I realized that there is no HD on HBO OnDemand. It's all SD. And, to tell the truth, I was almost amused at how little I wanted to see it. Now, I know that SD actually looks worse on an HD screen than it does on a tube set. The HD reveals the poor image quality more than the tube did. But still, it was comical how greedy I'd ('ve) gotten about HD. I watch almost no SD anymore, after 34 some-odd years of watching nothing but. Which also means I'll have to DVR Big Love and other HBO Shows - I used to count on the OnDemand site to get me stuff I missed.

It's a hard-knock life, no doubt.

Until Whenever

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Random Top Ten

Random Top Ten!!!

Top Ten Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits songs

10. "Sailing to Philadelphia" (Mark Knopfler and James Taylor)
A historical ditty sung in character as Lewis and Clark.

9. "Private Investigations" (Dire Straits)
His most theatrical song, full of pomp and big dramatic flourishes. Starts off as a hushed, spokem detective story, to melancholy piano, and ends with a big crashing instrumental piece.

8. "The Scaffolder's Wife" (Mark Knopfler)
From the new album, a song with a simply wonderful lilting chorus.

7. "On Every Street" (Dire Straits)
Three repeated verses over a basic yet beguling piano-based chord progression yield to an guitar-led uptempo fade-out.

6. "This Is Us" (Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris)
A couple leafs through a picture album, reminiscing about their history together. Such a simple idea for a song that I don't think anyone's done before.

5. "The Fizzy and the Still" (Mark Knopfler)
Knopfler takes a very simple descending four-note figure here ("It's not for me") and somehow makes it the epitome of sad longing and aching melancholy. I have no idea how he does this.

4. "Tunnel of Love" (Dire Straits)
I simply love that this starts with the "Carousel Waltz" from Carousel. I nearly jumped with recognition when I finally heard that score.

3. "Romeo & Juliet" (Dire Straits)
As sweetly hopeful and wistful a love song as has been written.

2. "Sultans of Swing" (Dire Straits)
Odd that the band's first song would stand as its near-greatest, but thee it is/. one of my all-time favorite guitar solos.

1. "Brothers in Arms" (Dire Straits)
The one song that will sneak through and stand the test of time. Has anyone done a kick-ass cover of this yet? It;s crying out for one.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Stupid FiOS

I do not have the Sundance Channel. I am, therefore, unable to keep up with Elvis Costello's most excellent talk show, Spectacle. However, as I have just discovered, there are a nice collection of clips at the show's website, here.

My favorite so far?

Until Whenever
Suddenly I Am Hit By a Truck


I just finished Chuck Klosterman's debut novel, Downtown Owl, and am about as poleaxed as can be. For the first 90% of the novel, Klosterman takes us through the lives of three primary characters, residents of the small-town Owl, ND. There's the high school's back-up quarterback, Mitch; newly arrived schoolteacher Julia; and the elderly Mitch. In rotating chapters named by the date they take place on (the book is set in the early 80s), Klosterman takes us through the end of summer up to the end of February. Nothing earth-shattering happens, but we get to know these three, as well as assorted hangers-on, well, and come to look forward to the end of the school year finale that the book's structure would lead us to expect.

But then Kllosterman sets a freak blizzard loose on his characters. And within the space of maybe 10 pages, he's killed Mitch and Julia (Mitch is caught in an apple orchard and freezes to death, while Julia pulls over in her car and is eventually poisoned by carbon monoxide), with only the dogged Mitch to survive (albeit barely; he nearly freezes to death after getting caught not 50 yards from his house).

And then the novel ends. I love Klosterman's writing, and he's engaging throughout, doing a fine job of creating believeable characters and making us care about them. But I have to cop to just not getting that ending. I thought my copy was missing pages.

Maybe it was.

Until Whenever

Monday, February 02, 2009

Three by Three

Three things I liked about The Searchers.
  • The pretty pictures. Suddenly, all of the praise heaped on John Ford that I've read over the years makes sense. I'd never seen a Ford (or John Wayne) film before, and in this one is way with the landscape and the people in it is evident. From the way he bookends the film with shots looking out at Wayne out in the land, as framed by dark doorways, to the way he has the niece running down a sandy hill while Wayne and his cousin argue, oblivious to her, it's clear he has a great cinematic eye.

  • Wayne - I'll admit to a little bit of disconnect with the Wayne voice and persona - when you've absorbed countless imitations and impressions without knowing the real thing, finally being introduced to the rel thing can feel odd, like you're seeing a really great impression. But once I adjusted, I started to get the iconography of Wayne, and appreciate how he takes what could otherwise be a pretty two-dimensional figure into something pretty complex.

  • The character parts. From the simple slowness of the handicapped Moses to the Swedish sweetness of Lars, the supporting players transcended the obvious stereotypes for me to become real people.
Three things I did not like about The Searchers.
  • Not the racism, which certainly felt era-appropriate, but the lack of insight given to the Cherokee - I would have loved to see more of Debbie in Cherokee captivity, for example.

  • The passage of time - Ethan and Martin are out in the mountains looking for Laurie for 5 years, but we never really feel that passage of time. Indeed, after one of the time-jumps I was actually confused.

  • The detail given to life on the frontier - in line with the second complaint above, there was no sense of Ethan and Martin suffering hardship or sacrifice during their nomadic existence. The film made spending five years searching in the wilderness look a little too easy.
Until Whenever