Author: rnhaas

1974, Music

Good Old Boys (1974) by Randy Newman

I have long struggled to “get” Randy Newman, often finding the contrasts in tone within a single record, and the excessive arrangements, to be far more of a problem than his voice. (I assume his voice is the thing that keeps most people from enjoying him.) But I was listening to an episode of the …

1954, Movies

Chikamatsu monogatari (1954, Kenji Mizoguchi)

Aka The Crucified Lovers aka A Story by Chikamatsu This is one of those Japanese tragedies where two lovers are prevented from living happily ever after by the strictures of society. Yes, this is a universal story, but the Japanese have a lot of these stories and there is a particular tenor to the Japanese …

1999, Music

Fly (1999) by Dixie Chicks

This is my second Dixie Chicks album and I feel like I just basically feel the same way about it. That’s a frustrating experience for me because I feel like I should have some kind of new take. Moreover, given the general feelings of fans that this is (slightly?) inferior to Wide Open Spaces, I …

1994, Music

Definitely Maybe (1994) by Oasis

Loud electric guitars had been missing from British radio for a long, long time by the early 1990s. With the exception of U2 and the Smiths and a few other bands, there hadn’t been much popular guitar-based music for much of the previous decade. And when guitar-based music appeared, it often had synthesizers, gated drums …

1994, Music

Mars Audiac Quintet (1994) by Stereolab

I don’t love Stereolab’s shtick though I get why lots of people do. So my mileage with them varies in so much as I can convince myself that the album is either important (because they probably pioneered their particular fusion) or how ti compares to the other albums of theirs I’ve managed to get around …

1994, Music

Living Under June (1994) by Jann Arden

Before I get to my review, I just wanted to mention that my experience of this album was disrupted. I was listening to it on Google Play but when I went back for my second listen it had just disappeared. Vanished without a trace. I assume the licensing agreement expired but I don’t know what …

2007, Movies

Chicago 10 (2007, Brett Morgan)

The trial of 10 people after the demonstrations outside the 1968 Democratic Convention is certainly a notable trial in the history of civil liberties abuses in the United States. And it is a story that deserves to be told. But I’m not sure if this ADD movie is the right vehicle for it. Moreover, it …

1979, Music

Drums and Wires (1979) by XTC

I maintain that the Atlantic created a pretty different sonic difference between American and British New Wave and and, later, American and British Post Punk. With New Wave that gulf is so big that it almost feels silly to call them the same genre; compare to Elvis Costello or the Police to Pere Ubu and …

1979, Music

Off the Wall (1979) by Michael Jackson

I was listening to this record and I was struck once again by the fact that I just don’t like Michael Jackson. I was so struck by this that I posted a crude joke about him on my podcast’s social media which I will refrain from including in this review because it’s both not the …

1974, Music

New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974) by Leonard Cohen

This record has the reputation of being the moment when Cohen switched up the way his songs were arranged. But though there is some truth to that, it doesn’t bother me anywhere near how I imagined it would, which might have something to do with my imagining what it sounded like before I listened to …

1974, Music

Perfect Angel (1974) by Minnie Riperton

Jimbo: Not that sure. I think we better come up with a backup plan. Uhh, let’s see here. Hey, bookie! Wha- what’s the halftime show gonna be?Bookie: You haven’t heard?! John Stamos’ older brother Richard Stamos is gonna sing ‘Loving You’.Ned: I love that song.Jimbo: ‘Loving You’? That’s perfect! Come on Ned, Middle Park’s gonna …

1969, Music

Monster Movie (1969) by The Can

Like most people, I am coming to CAN’s first album (as The Can) having listened to their peak motorik albums many, many times. I’ve treated this one like the first child given up for adoption or something, only getting around to looking for it well after I became a fan of the band.

1964, Music

Where Did Our Love Go (1964) by The Supremes

A lot of Motown albums don’t hold up that well 55 years later, as many of them if not most of them are sort of built the same way that rock and roll albums of the ’50s were built – a bunch of hit singles, their b-sides and then a bunch of dross that was …

2019, Podcasts

The Last Days of August (2019)

This is an interesting story of what caused a porn star to take her own life. In many ways it’s like a less accomplished version of Shit Town. So I’m sorry to say that there will be minor spoilers for both podcasts in this review. If you haven’t listened to Shit Town (i.e. S Town) …

2015, Books, Non-Fiction

Intelligence: All That Matters (2015, Stuart Ritchie)

I am of a generation where skepticism over IQ was widespread. I don’t know where it comes from exactly but I know that it is everywhere. Essentially I was raised with the idea that IQ had been “debunked”. The reason I read this book is because I got into an argument with someone and afterwards …

2015, Movies

Chevalier (2015, Athina Rachel Tsangari)

I am somewhere in the middle when it comes to “people being awful” or “people being dumb” movies. I generally find them amusing but my degree of amusement doesn’t just depend upon the quality of the film, it also regularly depends upon my mood and where I watch them – if I am in a …

1999, Music

The Writing’s on the Wall (1999) by Destiny’s Child

I was born on the same day as Beyonce. She’s the celebrity I always go to when that social media game about sharing celebrity birthdays comes up. But I only bring it up in regard to this album because, though I generally do not believe in any conspiracy theories, the album cover for this record …

1999, Music

On How Life Is (1999) by Macy Gray

I was not exactly paying attention to soul in the 1990s, so to the extent I was aware of Macy Gray it was entirely due to “I Try” being on video channels and the radio a lot. I had started reading contemporary reviews at least a little bit by this time and I remember positive …

1994, Music

It Takes a Thief (1994) by Coolio

I guess serious hip hop fans have strong feelings about Coolio, like he got too famous or something, or he’s not as talented as less famous rappers, or something. I don’t know anything about this and, frankly, I couldn’t care less. I hate arguments about whether or not someone is more authentic than someone else …

1994, Music

Roman Candle (1994) by Elliott Smith

Your mileage with Elliott Smith likely depends upon when in your life you first heard him. It sure feels like the people who first got into him in their teens – or even their early 20s – have a much greater desire for him to be appreciated as one of the great songwriters of his …

1994, Music

Cracked Rear View (1994) by Hootie and the Blowfish

The joke goes something like this: Q: What is the biggest selling album in history which nobody bought? A: Cracked Rear View. (Because everyone who bought it was so embarrassed by it later that they hid it and swore to their friends they never bought it, or sold it to the local used music store …

2016, Movies, TV

OJ: Made in America (2016, Ezra Edelman)

I must say I paid relatively little attention to the OJ trial. I think I watched the car chase and I remember our French teacher bringing in the TV to watch the verdict, but that’s about it. My memory of the entire case is more about perceptions of what other people thought rather than facts. …