Saturday Morning Brain Drain [25/2/23]

What I watched:  Killing Them Softly, a 2012 underworld film starring Brad Pitt as a reluctant hitman.  The film tried to be Pulp Fiction without any of the charm, wit, pacing, or good writing.

What I read:  Your Table is Ready, by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina, a New York City Maitre d’.  This is to the front of house operations what Kitchen Confidential was to back of house operations.  Michael tells it straight, which I appreciate, so if your sensitivities are offended easily do not read this book.  However, if you have the capacity to understand that the restaurant business is a cruel, cruel place that is full of misfits, even (and especially) at the level of fine dining, then by all means read this book. He covers all of the stuff that I have in the past, but he does it ever so much better than I could.

What I listened to:  This week’s stop on the tour of the best engineered albums of all time brings us to 90125 by Yes.  Released in 1983 and engineered by Gary Langan, this album sparked an entirely new direction by a band that itself only partly resembled its former self.  Yes had broken up a couple of years prior, but even then several of the original members had been long gone.  However, three of those members had partnered up with Trevor Rabin, who had been shopping a demo to various labels for another solo project, but eventually hooked up with bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White.  Initially, they had called themselves Cinema, but after convincing the original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson to join them (and after getting legal threats by other bands named Cinema), they decided to stick with the Yes name. 

Most of the hits on this album were originally part of Rabin’s solo project demo, which goes a long way toward explaining the hard turn into Pop territory, from their previous Progressive Rock roots.  This being during the period of infancy for digital recording, the album does sound a bit like it was pieced together, but that is primarily due to the heavy use of gates and various and sundry overdubs.  That being said, the sound is kick ass.  It is full, with fairly sharp edges.  It’s a wee bit on the bright side, but that can be attributed to the newness of the digital technology and the usual awkwardness that comes with learning how to use a new audio technology properly.

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  1. The Company You Keep (ABC) has my teenage fantasy boyfriend, Jesse from Gilmore Girls aka Milo Ventimiglia, as a Robin Hood style con artist who falls for a secret CIA agent. The whole noble con artist scamming bad guys while unknowingly playing cat and mouse with the CIA is a front for what is actually a sexy romance show. I love it! My only complaint is that I have to wait a week for the next episode to air.

    Speaking of waiting a week. The Last of Us is also worth waiting for.

    Not worth watching are Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy. GG is such garbage. I’ve been trying hard to enjoy it but it’s proving impossible to even hate-watch. Yawn! After nearly two decades, Meredith has finally ditched Grey’s which makes sense since the show has been unmemorable for the past two seasons (at the very least). I’m an extremely loyal Grey’s fan who has re-watched the series multiple times but I think I will quit now. They should just end the series and make a new hospital drama instead of trying to get us to care about this new round of interns.

    I’m on the fence with Not Dead Yet starring Gina Rodriguez (of Jane the Virgin fame… which is a great show BTW). She’s a journalist who has been sidelined to the obituary section after pausing her career for her financé. The catch is that she is haunted by the ghosts of the obits until she publishes them. She learns life lessons from the dead along the way. It’s cheesy. I like cheese.

    I’m reading Leviathan Wakes (aka The Expanse in book format). Loving it! Gimme all those Amos one liners. Sigh. I miss the show but it’s too soon to rewatch it for me. I propose we host a DeadSplinter Expanse viewing party in a decade from now. Who’s in? I’ll start working on the optional drinking game to go with it.

  2. Watched Cunk On Earth. I enjoyed it as it made me actually laugh out loud at moments. I’m not sure if it her questions, snide comments or watching experts nearly strangle themselves to keep from laughing at her questions or the mental gymnastics to figure out how to answer such an absurd one.

  3. I watched Liam Neeson’s Non Stop which was in the same vein as The Commuter.

    Neeson is an air marshall on a plane where all kinds of terrible horrible nasty things happen and he has to save the day with his big mitts.

    It was fun and of course you have to buy in or it will completely fall apart.

  4. Continuing to watch Poker Face on Peacock.  A late season episode has Natasha Lyonne and Nick Nolte doing some amazing work together.  It may be the best I’ve seen Nolte do.

  5. I watched Kindred on Hulu. Very disappointing, the dialogue is so bad, the male lead mumbled so much he was sometimes difficult to understand. It does a disservice to the rich source material.

    • But is it so bad that it deserved to be cancelled? I haven’t watched it yet. I read a Black feminist review of it saying that there are worse white shows that get picked up and that we hold Black shows to an impossibly higher expectation*. It is a shame that it sucked. Kindred was based on the novel but also they had access to all of the author’s notes.

      *I’m still bitter that Lovecraft Country was cancelled. It was excellent on so many levels. Definitely one of my top 10 shows.

      • There are much worse shows that get renewed so for the sake of representation I’d say it shouldn’t be cancelled. But it’s not very good at all and they should have been able to do more with it. Lovecraft Country was fantastic, as was Underground Railroad. I don’t know what happened here.

  6. I vaguely remember seeing “Leave It” on MTV back in the day. They put the video titles upside-down and in the upper right corner of the screen to fit with the aesthetic. And didn’t “Owner of a Lonely Heart” have an early go at sampling as well?

  7. I’ve been watching the Pamela Anderson autobiography on Netflix. It’s really nice to have it be in her own words, especially after she was not interested in being involved with the Pam and Tommy miniseries that came out last year.

    Also watched the Netflix doc about the hatchet wielding hitchhiker. Honestly that was so frustrating to watch since I guess a decade ago no one was like oh hey that’s clearly mental illness and it’s going to escalate.

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