EP 96 Memento Bowie

Herman’s Hermits – Oh! You Pretty Things Ale Vanzella – The Man Who Sold The World David Bowie – Days Switchblade Kittens – All the Young Dudes Balzac – Ziggy Stardust Lulu – Watch that Man Ian McCulloh – The Prettiet Star Miriam – You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving David Bowie – The Laughing Gnome Placebo (feat David Bowie) – Without You I’m Nothng The Cure – Young Americans The Get Up Kids – Suffragette City David Bowie – I’m Afraid of Americans TV on the Radio – Heroes The Dandy Warhols – Jean Genie Dinosaur Jr. – Quicksand Sunshiners – Modern Love Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust David Bowie – When I’m Five Iggy Pop – The Passenger David Bowie – Velvet Goldmine Purple Hearts – Can’t Help Thinking About Me Beck – Diamond Dogs The Sea and Cake – Sound and Vision Warpaint – Ashes to Ashes, pt 1 David Bowie – Seven Nirvana – The Man Who Sold the World Barbra Streisand – Life on Mars


Ep 97 – John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester

Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town in the center of the state―the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: it’s a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck. But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets―an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store―she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it’s not defective, exactly, but altered: “There’s another movie on this tape.” Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation―the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing― but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town. So begins John Darnielle’s haunting and masterfully unsettling Universal Harvester: the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The novel will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain. AMAZON
Novocain Stain – Modest Mouse Wicked World – Black Sabbath Never Learn Not to Love – The Beach Boys Camera – Pavement The House that Dripped Blood – Hallelujah the Hills Hooray for Tuesday – The Minders New Zion – The Mountain Goats Indian Summer – Beat Happening Happily Divided – Sebadoh Wrong – Archers of Loaf Cause and Effect – Bingo Trappers Orange Ball of Hate – Hefner I am a Cinematographer – Palace Brothers Thinking of You – The Thermals I Guess I Remembered It Wrong – Superchunk Standard Bitter Love Song #4 – The Mountain Goats Smoke and Mirrors – The Magnetic Fields True Love Travels on a Gravel Road – The Afghan Whigs Pictures – Galaxie 500 Alpha Rats Nest – Andrew Jackson Jihad  

A Year with Steinbeck Book 19: Once There Was a War

In the sixty-plus years since WWII, there have been thousands of hours spent on retelling the war through film, novels, and video games. Most of the retellings come from people whose experience with the war came from memories or stories in history books. Hell, some even merge the two to showcase the reality of the war in all its crimson glory.           Even John Steinbeck, who went as a correspondent, writes that he ‘attended’ the war, since he did not fight. He also goes on, in this collection of accounts, to say that he had to be mindful of the heavily hand of the censors. Well after the war, when he began to put Once There was a War together, he found that many details escaped him and all he was left with were half remembered stories. All of them true, he swears, but still just outside of his recollection. I guess this leads me to wonder about the power of the propaganda machine and if what we see in film, novels, and video games, are nothing but creative re-imagining of the true horror of war. I suppose that is where the title comes from: the fairy tale retelling of heroics and victories. The danger of said remembrances can have an adverse in a culture’s consciousness. It dehumanizes those men who fight and those who die. Steinbeck begins his writing Somewhere in England in 1943, “The troops in their thousands sit on their equipment on the dock…The men wear their helmets, which make them all look alike…The have no identity, no personality. The men are units in an army.” It’s not even possible for me to image thousands of men, armed with rifles and fears, ready to face an enemy and possible death. Steinbeck realizes early on that in order to discuss the soldiers, he must seek out what separates them from the mass of machine men and make them individuals. The remainder of the collection finds Steinbeck seeking the heart of the soldier. It’s an examination of a soldier’s life when he isn’t fighting, but living. Readers looking for a bit of levity will enjoy the chapters on Bob Hope, Chewing Gum and a good luck goat.