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 24, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 24, 2022


[Forty Boingo] -- These days, Oingo Boingo's frontman, Danny Elfman, is best known as a composer of film soundtracks. But forty years ago this week -- on June 22, 2022 -- Oingo Boingo released their second studio album, Nothing to Fear. This album featured two singles. The first, the frenetic and still prescient "Private Life," was accompanied with a music video. The second single was a double release of "Grey Matter" with "Nothing to Fear." 

The songs on this record are lyrically weird and fun. Musically, they are gems of offbeat 80s pop rock: searing guitar, crisp drums, and plenty of synths. The album did well commercially, despite poor reviews. And while none of the singles charted, "Private Life" is certainly a standout. Other standout tracks, at least in my opinion, include "Running on a Treadmill," "Whole Day Off," and "Reptiles and Samurai." 

FlashbackNothing to Fear (June, 1982)




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 21, 2022

What If...

 Dangrdafne review:

What If... they didn't create this series? Would we have missed anything? Are we more invested because of this series? What do we gain?

My answers to these questions don't actually influence if I liked the series or not because my responses would make you think I didn't like it but in fact I did. I think I liked it because it put more emphasis on the female characters and let them be in the forefront more than usual.

I loved seeing Peggy Carter as Captain Carter and would love if that became real somehow. Also Black Widow had a HUGE role and I had to laugh that they kept her changing looks from the movies in each episode of this series. I guess some things never change ;)

I definitely could have done without the zombie episode and honestly I couldn't even watch it when the zombies were one, just too gross for me. But I guess that is a tip of the hat to the animators. They were able to draw zombie so gross that I couldn't even look at them. The story though was very interesting and it did end up being a part of the bigger picture which from the beginning I didn't know about or expect.

I thought each episode was stand alone but I was wrong. Each one lead to a final episode where it all came together and resolved. I did love that each episode was 30 minutes or less, so we were able to binge the whole series in one evening. It also made it more like a comic book and you had to get in all your information in a short amount of time. 

I do wish Scarlett Johannson had been able to do the Black Widow voice. Not that Lake Bell wasn't good but it was hard not to hear Poison Ivy from Harley Quinn in many scenes whenever Black Widow spoke. 

Overall I recommend watching this series especially if you love Marvel and don't mind thinking outside the box for your characters. Will you miss out on anything if you don't watch it? I don't think so but I am glad I watched.

3 paws

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 17, 2022



[Feel Your Heartbeat, Heartbeat] -- I've previously written about discovering music through the time-honored tradition of fishing deals out of cut-out bins. If you don't recall, these bins were so-named because they featured records and cassette tapes (and, later, compact discs) that had been deleted, or "cut-out," from the catalog. The cut-outs were non-returnable, and non-refundable, so they were significantly discounted to quickly move them out of stock. I could purchase a handful of cut-out records for the same amount of money as one popular record or tape. 

And that's how a cassette copy of King Crimson's ninth studio album, Beat, entered my collection: The cut-out bin at my local G.C. Murphy's

I knew nothing about Beat at the time of purchase, but I had heard of King Crimson. (I was, at least, somehow familiar with "21st Century Schizoid Man" from their 1969 debut album). When I got home with my purchase, slapped it into my cassette player, and heard the opening strains of "Neal and Jack and Me," I was transported. In fact, revisiting that track for this Flashback brought back a strange flood of road trip tensions, but in a good way. Thinking back to my very first listening session of Beat from beginning to end, that sense of being transported remained with me for the duration of the album. I was especially enamored with the two ballads – "Heartbeat" and "Two Hands" – as well as the instrumental, "Sartori in Tangier," the very precise "Waiting Man," and the raucous "Neurotica." 

Now, I might not find many others who appreciate this album as I do, particularly not among King Crimson fans. I have read, and heard, people complain that Beat is perhaps a little too new wave, perhaps not prog enough, for their tastes. Maybe such fans prefer Discipline, King Crimson's 1981 outing. They definitely prefer some of the earlier records in the Crimson catalog. 

Anyway, 40 years ago this week, on June 18, 1982, King Crimson released Beat. Interestingly, it was King Crimson’s first release to feature the same lineup as the previous studio album (they apparently shifted their lineup frequently). This record was inspired by the Beat literature of the 1950s, especially the twenty-fifth anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. And, although this record's critical reception might have been rather mixed, Beat still reached #39 on the UK albums chart and #52 on the US Billboard 200. The lone single, "Heartbeat," peaked at #57 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. 

Whatever Beat might lack commercially, it more than makes up for in the band's technical prowess and songwriting. Also, having both Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew play guitar (among other instrumentations) on one record is pretty much a masterclass in fretboard alchemy. Of course, the rest of the quartet was filled out by Tony Levin (on bass guitar and Chapman stick) and Bill Bruford (on drums and percussion), and they weren't exactly slouches either. Whatever one might think of the songs, there is just no denying the virtuosity that was captured on this record.

This week's embedded YouTube playlist follows the track order of the eight songs that appear on the 1982 release of Beat. I have, however, taken the liberty of including a live version of "Neal and Jack and Me," an actual music video of "Heartbeat," and an extended live performance of "Waiting Man." All other items in this playlist come from King Crimson's own YouTube playlist for Beat, which includes two bonus tracks, "Neurotica / The Howler (Live In Philadelphia)" and "Absent Lovers."

FlashbackBeat (King Crimson, 1982)




Well, 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 14, 2022

Fantastic Beasts: The Screts of Dumbledore

 Dangrdafne review:



I almost didn't finish this movie. Ironically right after the part where I almost turned it off, the movie got better and found its way. So I am glad I hung in there but it was really tough.

From the very first scene, I was unhappy. I knew they were changing Grindelwald BUT they didn't help viewers know that it was the person who was on screen in the first scene. Brainwise thought I should have just known but honestly if I did know at some point, I had forgotten before the movie started. So I started out annoyed and it went downhill from there until I bottomed out at the "jail" scene and the swivel walk in and out of the scene. WHY? Why was that needed? The movie opened all depressed and serious and then they put in that scene! It was horrid. They only way it could have worked is if it were in the first movie or if the opening of this movie had been lighter in any way. 

We paused the movie after this scene and took a small break. I really didn't want to not see the rest but I was verrrry apprehensive about continuing. Thankfully, the silliness departed as did the deep depression and the movie seemed to find a happy medium and get back to its story telling ways.

The story still hit too close to home but I hung in there and have closure for the most part. I do find it interesting that there are three troubled people in this franchise: Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller and J.K. Rowling. And if this ends up being the end of the story, I am good with that. As interesting as it would be to meet up with the Harry Potter series, I can be ok without filling in that time. I am finding that it is hard to rally behind things anymore, as each time I seem to do that, it all goes sideways.

If you are a completist, as I am, you will need to watch this film to close out the current series but if you are on the fence with watching it, I say go back to the side of the fence without the movie.

I will say that it was visually stunning. They have even increased their abilities with showing magic and scenes from just the last movie. Although if I think about it, it might be to distract from the story and it's confusion. Anyway, I'm glad I made it through and I am grateful for Pick, Teddy the Niffler, and Jacob. Without them, I would not have made it. And I also loved Lally, a new character for this movie.

I think the best thing I can say to describe my opinion of this movie is that I might not watch this movie again but I have watched the first one over and over and still would. 

1 paw for first 1/3 of movie, 2 paws for the rest

Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 10, 2022


[Sweet 16?] -- Forty years ago this week -- on June 7, 1982 -- Chicago released their 13th studio album, Chicago 16. The 16 comes from the band's canon numbering, which ignores several of their live and compilation albums while including Chicago Transit Authority (1969), Chicago at Carnegie Hall (1971), and Hot Streets (1978) as their first, fourth, and twelfth releases. 

Depending on one's tastes, Chicago 16 is either a valiant comeback or the beginning of the band's decline. Either way, this record certainly represents a new phase of Chicago's sound and career. They had moved to a new label, Warner Bros., and with that shift came a new producer, David Foster, as well as management edicts indicating that radio stations "didn’t want anything with horns on it." Foster not only helmed the studio, but also joined the band by playing keyboards and was a co-writer on eight tracks of Chicago 16. Through Foster, Chicago embraced more aspects of the 1980s and arena rock, with keyboards and guitars becoming more prominent. And to satisfy that management note, Chicago's previous trademark horns, while still present, start to take a back seat. This is particularly true of the two big hits -- "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "Love Me Tomorrow" -- the latter of which has no horns whatsoever. 

Still, nothing succeeds like success (or was that excess-ive production?). "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" peaked at #1 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Adult Contemporary charts, as well as reaching the top 20 or better on charts around the world. "Love Me Tomorrow" did well on the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Adult Contemporary, and US Cash Box Top 100 (#22, #8, and #22 respectively). Chicago 16 was a hit album, being certified platinum (their first album since 1978 to do so) and peaking at #9 on the Billboard 200 as well as within the top 40 for several other countries.

FlashbackChicago 16 (1982)




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 7, 2022

Ghosts - CBS

 Dangrdafne review 


I watched for Rebecca Wisocky, I stayed for it all. What an incredible show. It’s a comedy but my oh my I cried a lot at this comedy. It is so moving and thoughtful. So many issues are part of the show and it feels like therapy at times, very good therapy. 

I love that I only questioned the reality of what was happening twice because otherwise it just didn’t matter why the ghosts could pass through doors but could sit on chairs and lie on beds. It’s not the point at all. The ghosts do what’s needed to move the story forward and it doesn’t matter if it fits the “rules” of ghosts. 

I still can’t believe the main actress, Rose McIver, was I-Zombie, she is so different here and I love it. Utkarch Ambudkar, plays her husband Jay and I love how he just accepts the Ghosts. I am glad he goes along for the ride and I definitely love how he supports his wife.
 
Rebecca Wisocky is one of my favorite actresses and she does not disappoint here at all. She is perfection as Hetty. She is hilarious and I LOVE how she is becoming a feminist but still holds onto her "old" ways. I love watching her learn the ways of the modern world and how it impacts her ideals. Rebecca is hilarious and moving all at the same time. I just adore her and Hetty.
 
And don't get me wrong all the other Ghosts are wonderful too but my heart belongs to Hetty. I adore the story line of Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones) and Nigel (John Hartman). The two actors portray their "relationship" with tenderness and respect for the issue they are conveying. You can't help but root for them and I will admit I cried during the twist that was revealed late in the series. I'm grateful they were unneeded tears. 

I am also completely enamored with Sasappis (Roman Zaragoza). His voice, his calm, his outlook, he brings a much needed balance to the craziness of the Ghosts. The actor is a perfect fit for this role and he always makes me smile, of course until I cried all during the episode of his life and becoming a Ghost.

If I had to live in this house I would hope I could befriend these Ghosts and that they would become my family. I love how they all learn and work together for themselves and for the non-Ghosts around them. It is a funny, moving and joyous show. I highly recommend it.

4 paws for the whole show
4 paws and a tail for Rebecca Wisocky as Hetty

Friday, June 3, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 3, 2022


[Eye Love It] -- Depending on the source, this week's Flashback album was released in either May or June of 1982. Either way, it's forty years old as of this month, so now's as good a time as any to celebrate it.
 
Forty years ago this week, the Alan Parsons Project released their sixth, and probably best-known, studio album, Eye in the Sky. As with most of their releases, this was a concept album:
The concept behind this album was related to belief systems, whether they be religious beliefs, political beliefs or belief in luck (as in gambling). Generally the concept is related to the universal idea that there is someone looking down on us all. The expression is also used in military and surveillance contexts. [the-alan-parsons-project.com]
Eye in the Sky was recorded on analog equipment and then mixed to Sony 1610 digital format (i.e., digital master tape). The first single from this album was the title track. It was originally accompanied by a nearly two minute intro instrumental titled "Sirius." Later single releases edit out the intro, and this pared down version received the most airplay on pop-oriented stations. AOR and classic rock stations, however, typically play the full track. The official music video includes "Sirius" as well. Whichever version you recall from the radio, "Eye in the Sky" is the reason this 1982 album is so well known. The single peaked at #3 on Billboard. And it has inspired numerous cover versions, my favorite being the the 2004 version by Jonatha Brooke.

The other two singles – "Psychobabble" and "Old and Wise" – do not loom large as radio tunes in my memory. In fact, I don't recall hearing either of them until I had a cassette copy of Eye in the Sky. They weren't hit singles but they weren't exactly failures either: "Psychobabble" peaked at #57 on Billboard (between the end of 1982 and the beginning of 1983), while "Old and Wise" peaked at #21 on Billboard and #74 in the UK. "Old and Wise" is still one of my favorite tracks on this record, and I think it was a masterstroke to end the album with it. 

My opinions aside, critical reception for Eye in the Sky was not exactly glowing. Ken Tucker gave the record a single star in his Philadelphia Inquirer review. Retrospectively, the album has fared better, and it currently has a four and a half star rating on AllMusic. Still, whatever reviewers thought in 1982, the record received a nomination for Best Engineered Album (1983 Grammies); it just did not win. However, in 2019, the 35th Anniversary Edition of the album did win a Grammy for Best Immersive Audio Album. Eye in the Sky fared well commercially, peaking within the top ten on charts around the world, including #7 on the US Billboard 200. It was certified Gold or better in several countries, and it was the Alan Parsons Project's last Platinum record. 

FlashbackEye in the Sky (1982)




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!