Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday 80s Flashback for June 18, 2021


[Walk the Night] -- Back in March, when I saw that Gino Vannelli's Nightwalker had turned 40, I passed on featuring it in a Flashback. You see, I thought I had previously done a post about this album. Turns out, I had featured only the title track as one of three "Guilty Pleasures" back in April 2013. Well, as Mr. Vannelli's birthday was just this past Wednesday (6/18), and because Nightwalker was an album my late father and I had bonded over, I think this is the weekend to feature the record in its entirety. (By the way, I still have my father's vinyl copy of this album).

Nightwalker (1981) was the seventh release from the Vannelli brothers (Gino's brother, Joe, worked with him for much of his career). It's a woefully underrated record if you ask me, almost a textbook example of recording engineering genius. I also consider it a milestone in that it shows a clear delineation between 1970s studio excess and the 1980s DIY attitude. Nightwalker is full and lush. You can actually feel a roomful of musicians and equipment, but it never feels overproduced – well, maybe it's a bit overproduced by mid-80s standards, but certainly not when judged on its own merits. The title track, which is also the first track on Side A, kicks off with the sounds of city traffic, evoking the very streets that the song's protagonist walks. A keyboard intro is gently woven in. Then, around the 45 second mark, the city gives way to the full sound of Gino Vannelli's band filling your ears and senses. I should also point out that this album marks Vannelli's sidestep from his more R&B and jazz influenced recordings. Pop music was on the rise as the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, and Vannelli's songwriting shifted to reflect that change. 

Not that his writing always works on this record. "Nightwalker" sometimes comes across as ... well ... stalker-like ("I can't live in this world without love, without you" or "I walk the night because your head is gone from my pillow"). "Stay With Me" has the cringeworthy lyric "The only crime I see, is killing time with me," but Vannelli still sings it, or slings it, with his customary gusto. But there are plenty of highlights, too. Both "Seek and You Will Find" and "I Believe" are positive, upbeat songs which can still resonate today. "Sally (She Says the Sweetest Things)" is tender ballad of the highest order. And after a year of pandemic, pretty much everyone can identify with this album's biggest hit, "Living Inside Myself." 

FlashbackNightwalker (1981) by Gino Vannelli



Track order in the embedded playlist...

Side A:
1. "Nightwalker" - 5:07
2. "Seek and You Will Find" - 4:40 
3. "Put the Weight on My Shoulders" - 4:45
4. "I Believe" - 4:11 

Side B:
5. "Santa Rosa" - 4:12
6. "Living Inside Myself" - 4:23
7. "Stay With Me" - 4:43
8. "Sally (She Says the Sweetest Things)" - 4:29


That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

His Dark Materials - HBO Max

 Dangrdafne review:

This post was originally only going to cover Season 1 but we couldn’t stop watching, so it is a post for both seasons.

I listened to the audio book for The Golden Compass years ago and I saw the 2007 movie version of The Golden Compass but that is it. So I am missing the rest of the Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

That said, it did not ruin my enjoyment of this series. WOW!!!! The music is incredible, the cinematography is immense and the CGI is barely noticeable to me. Dafne Keen as Lyra is perfection. Exactly how I pictured/remembered her from the book. The animals/daemons are simply adorable and created perfectly. There are many times I wondered if they were real or not, to me that is a good sign of the amount of time they took to create them.

I would say the weak spot of the whole series for me is Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby. He was not gruff enough and he was too happy, even sounding like he was rhyming at times and that is not the Lee Scoresby I remember from the book. But again it was not enough to ruin the series for me and I am more than grateful that Lee Scoresby exists in the series for reasons I will not spoil.

I did remember a lot of the Golden Compass but since this is not distinctly one book per season, but almost I think,  there were things I didn't know during the first season and I knew even less in the second. I will add that watching the two seasons now, I want to go back and re-read the first book and read the other two books. I am curious as to what was different and if it made a difference. Since it has been so long since my reading and watching the first book, I could not recall what was in the book or not in the series.

Again, like so many other shows we have watched lately, it is another very timely tale and I am sure my blood pressure must go up while we are watching. There are so many storylines that just get me so angry but it is all necessary and part of the story. I am sad we have to wait quite some time for season 3 but I will patiently wait as I know it will be well worth it.

4 paws 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday 80s Flashback for June 11, 2021

 


[Dreaming in Blue] -- Last week, this blog featured Synchronicity (1983), the final studio album Sting recorded as a member of The Police. So, why not follow that up with Sting's first solo record, The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985)? In early 1984, breaking up a popular rock band at the height of their commercial success, and shortly after a record-breaking tour, probably didn't seem all that logical. And when The Dream of the Blue Turtles debuted in June 1985, lots of fans probably wondered why Sting had traded rock'n'roll stardom for a jazzier sound. Perhaps they did not realize, or recall, that all three members of The Police had jazz backgrounds. In fact, Stewart Copeland first saw Sting when the latter was performing with a jazz fusion outfit in Newcastle. 

But Sting didn't want to necessarily make a jazz record as his first big solo outing. No, his "intention was to use musicians who had the finesse of playing jazz, but to make music without that label" (UCR, June 2015). And so, he recruited a brilliant set of musicians -- Branford Marsalis (saxophone), Kenny Kirkland (keyboards), Omar Hakim (drums) and Darryl Jones (bass) -- to create an album that was not stifled by what he viewed as the restrictive format of pop or rock. If the five singles and a handful of Grammy nominations (scroll down to 1985 here) are any indication, he succeeded. So, let's revisit this record which celebrated its 35th anniversary last year. 

Also, after the past year of virtual gatherings, does that first video (for "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free") make anyone else think of Zoom backgrounds? 

FlashbackThe Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985)



Track order in the embedded playlist...

Side one
1. "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"
2. "Love Is the Seventh Wave"
3. "Russians" Sergei Prokofiev, Sting
4. "Children's Crusade"
5. "Shadows in the Rain"

Side two
6. "We Work the Black Seam"
7. "Consider Me Gone"
8. "The Dream of the Blue Turtles"
9. "Moon over Bourbon Street"
10. "Fortress Around Your Heart"


That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The New Mutants - HBO Max

 Dangrdafne review:

I didn't know what to expect at all. Brainwise said it was in the X-Men franchise and that it might be a horror. I saw that it was PG-13, so how much horror could there really be.

Well, there were scary things for sure and some shocking things too but I guess I think of gore with horror and I would say this was more mind horror and less gore but I was perfectly ok with it and it didn't scar me or anything, which is good overall.

I didn't know any of the characters and I might say I am not sure I still do. I felt like the movie makers had lots they wanted to show but didn't know how to put it all together so they did the best they could to put the pieces together to make a movie. Now, mind you, I didn't hate the movie at all and I might even watch it again if it were to come up but it is certainly nothing I will rave about. 

The actors did their job and I did care about them and would watch more if made, but if they don't make any more movies about them, I will be ok too. I don't feel I wasted my time watching the movie and we did say that we could always turn it off if we didn't like it but we watched the whole movie. I realize these are not glowing endorsements and if you are not into the X-men franchise I would definitely tell you to skip it.

Along those lines I like the X-men but this pushed the far boundaries of their tales and I did not know the characters or story lines at all. So I think if you know the X-men well you might like this more as you would catch the themes, stories and characters and may have more invested in it. Again though I didn't hate the movie but I could have liked it more for sure :)

2 paws

Friday, June 4, 2021

Friday 80s Flashback for June 4, 2021

 


[A connecting principle] -- Earlier this week, I saw a Facebook post about Synchronicity, the final studio album from The Police. According that particular write-up, The Police released this album on 6/1/1983. I thought, "Perfect! There's my topic for this week's Flashback!" However, in compiling notes for my own post, I found that other sources, Wikipedia and AllMusic among them, list 6/17/1983 as the release date. Either way, this album hit the charts 38 years ago this month. But if you're interested, the band's own website lists 6/1/1983 as the release date, so I could just as easily say the record came out 38 years ago this very week, if I wanted to be that much more topical (or synchronous, I suppose). 

Anyway, after spending most of 1982 on non-Police endeavors, the band reconvened to hammer out the details of their next studio record. The three of them had outlines of roughly 20 different songs. After their usual battles, they pared the list down to 11 tracks. This tally worked out to their typical balance of songwriting credits -- one Copeland song, one and a half from Summers, and the rest by Sting, who was largely regarded the best songwriter among them. As such, according to Summers, there were "hardly any broken hearts" over the final song selection. Synchronicity (1983) was named after Arthur Koestler's book, The Roots of Coincidence, which mentions Carl Jung's theory of Synchronicity. This was The Police's most successful album to date, spawning four hit singles and winning a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Early in the tour, just before playing to a crowd of 18,000 in New York's Shea Stadium, the band realized that things couldn't get much bigger. According to Sting, this was "the beginning of the end." Well, I guess if you have to end a musical collaboration, you might as well go out on a high note like Synchronicity, quite likely as close as a group can get to a perfect record. And because I truly believe Synchronicity is nearly perfect, I have to feature all 11 tracks for this post, right? Right! 

Flashback: The Police, Synchronicity (1983)



Here are the tracks embedded in this week's video playlist (which is your favorite?):
  1. Synchronicity I
  2. Walking in Your Footsteps
  3. O My God
  4. Mother
  5. Miss Gradenko
  6. Synchronicity II
  7. Every Breath You Take
  8. King of Pain
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  10. Tea in the Sahara
  11. Murder by Numbers

That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin

 Dangrdafne review:

I could not have have picked a better day to finally sit down and read this book: Memorial Day. I feel as though I fully honored the millions of people who have given their lives for our freedoms by reading this book today. And what a glorious book it is.

I finished it speechless and crying. I impatiently waited for this book from Madeline Martin but it was worth every second of the wait. Her writing and story telling are impeccable. I could see every moment of the book in my mind and while some of it I wish I couldn't, that means it is a great book. 

It is a story about World War II with incredible historical accuracy but it is so much more than that. It is about friendship, family, love, honor, compassion, loss, strength, the love of books and women who defy all the odds. It is truly a remarkable book. As I wrote to Madeline after I finished the book, "You touched a part of my soul that has been quiet for a long time." 

I kept writing down passages I liked until I realized I was writing most of the book. But I know it was going to be good from the very first page and this line, "...and gave a freshly applied vermillion smile." What a perfect description!! I feel like every word was perfectly chosen and held more meaning that I could even glean from them. I just really fell into the world and it is very hard leaving it now.

It also seems like a book appropriate for the pandemic. The themes at times were very similar and the teachings from WWII could certainly apply to 2020 and 2021. There are so many pieces of the book I want to share with you but it would most definitely take away from the beauty of discovering it all on your own.

All I can promise is that it is worth your time to read this book and relish in its beauty. To all my friends who love books, please, please add this book to your 'to read' list to read next. I can not recommend it enough. "One book at a time."

4 paws and a tail

Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday 80s Flashback for May 28, 2021


[Memorial Top Ten] -- Monday, 5/31/2021, is the last Monday in May and is therefore the date on which we observe Memorial Day here in the States. So, as of today, many are in Memorial Day Weekend mode. Looking at the weather, there might be fewer cookouts in this particular area, but grilling isn't the primary function of this holiday weekend. Of course, remembering 1980s tunes isn't the primary, or even the tertiary, function of the holiday either, but we on the Bookended crew have to work with what we've got. 

Anyway, back in 1981, Memorial Day was Monday, May 25. So, that year, the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend was Friday, May 22. And while I could have looked to see what records were released just before the holiday weekend, I figured it might be more of a treat to see what was aleady topping the charts as of the end of that week: Saturday, May 23. These would, of course, be the songs blaring from many a radio at more than one point that weekend. Fortunately, I was able to get the top ten list from both Billboard and Top 40 Weekly. And I compiled them into a YouTube playlist! 

Do you know what song topped the Billboard Hot 100 this holiday weekend in 1981? Maybe even more important, do you know which of these tracks still rank highly in my list of all-time favorites? 

FlashbackBillboard Hot 100, Top 10 for May 23, 1981 



Counting down from #10 to #1, here are the songs that are embedded in the video playlist:

10. “Watching The Wheels” — John Lennon
9. “Too Much Time On My Hands” — Styx
8. “Sukiyaki” — A Taste Of Honey
7. “Living Inside Myself” — Gino Vannelli
6. “Take It On The Run” — REO Speedwagon
5. “Medley” — Stars On 45
4. “Angel Of The Morning” — Juice Newton
3. “Just The Two Of Us” — Grover Washington, Jr.
2. “Being With You” — Smokey Robinson
1. “Bette Davis Eyes” — Kim Carnes

And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Note: Image of the 5/23/1981 Billboard Magazine is from WorthPoint.