My Top Ten “Music” Movies

Much as I want to follow up my last post with a celebratory post about the education reform that Obama signed into law today, I promised a light-hearted post…and that’s what I’m going to give.


I watch a lot of movies.  You probably do too.  Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed the most have revolved around music in some way.  Probably because most of my life revolves around music, as well.  So here, with some explanation where I feel it’s necessary, are my top 10 favorite “Music” movies—with #10 being lowest and #1 being highest—along with some honorable mentions.


10. Eddie and the Cruisers 2

  • But not the original…go figure.  I think I saw this one first as a kid.  When you’re a young musician and you see a movie about a guy putting a band together, I guess it takes hold.  I re-watched it recently, and it’s pretty terrible…  But the things I remembered from it still kind of worked.  Like the saxophonist guy who says something to the effect of “You can change your name.  You can change your face.  But you can’t change the way you play.”  That’s actually pretty true.


9. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School

  • What?  It stars the freaking RAMONES.  I know it’s pretty cheesy and funny in some of the wrong places…but for the most part, it’s aware of what kind of movie it is and it doesn’t try to be anything else.  Plus…again…RAMONES.


8. Still Crazy

  • If anyone other than my brother and I have seen this movie, I owe you a Coke.  It’s a comedy…kind of “Spinal Tap” meets “The Commitments.”  Good flick for Beano, if nothing else.


7. Walk the Line

  • I love Johnny Cash.  Phoenix looked and sounded nothing like him…but good movie nonetheless.


6. Almost Famous

  • First time I saw it, I didn’t like it.  It grew on me over the days that followed, though.  I’ve seen it a few times since, and it’s still good.  I think people made a little too big a deal out of the “Tiny Dancer” scene…but overall, this fell JUST shy of the top five.


5. Spinal Tap

  • Goes without saying…


4. That Thing You Do

  • Always makes me want to get out there and play music when I see this movie.


3. A Mighty Wind

  • Yes.  It’s better than “Spinal Tap.”  Sorry.  The songs are so GOOD they’re almost not funny.


2. Hard Core Logo

  • One of the first semi-accurate touring-band/punk-rock movies I’ve ever seen.  Big inspiration of my early 2000s punk band, Uncle Dick and the inspiration for the name of my most recent band, Blue Tattoo.  Great, semi-hard-to-find movie that also introduced me to Hugh Dillon and his Canadian punk band The Headstones.  Also…the guy that plays the drummer played the hot-shot guitarist in “Eddie and the Cruisers 2” years prior…so there’s that, too.


1. High Fidelity

  • My favorite movie, probably.  It’s funny, it’s dramatic, it discusses music in a SMART way…and it’s got John Cusack in it.  Wins all around.



Honorable Mentions…


Stuff I liked:

  • Eddie and the Cruisers (1) – Eventually saw it, and it’s pretty good.  🙂
  • Sid & Nancy – Biopic of the story of Sid Vicious (from the Sex Pistols) and Nancy Spungen (heroin addict).  Introduced most of the world to Gary Oldman, which is a good thing…but also told a really interesting tale and managed to leave it as open-ended on screen as it was in real life. 
  • SLC Punk – Probably should be in the top-ten, but I’m not sure where.
  • The Commitments – Probably should also be in the top ten…and if I were going on artistic merit alone, it’d probably be top FIVE…
  • The Blues Brothers – I like it, but I don’t seem to LOVE it like everyone tells me I should.
  • Airheads – It was stupid, but funny.
  • Great Balls of Fire – Really good…but a little more intense in places than I would’ve expected for the era in which it came out.  If memory serves, they took some liberties with the story…haven’t seen it in a while…but I remember several scenes from it, having last seen it probably 10 years ago, so that says something good about it.
  • Head – The Monkees made a movie with Jack Nicholson…and this was it.  It’s a lot better than you’d think.
  • A Night at the Opera – Kind of a stretch…but it’s the Marx Brothers!  🙂
  • Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney Version) – Really great flick that still holds up today, if you ask me.  Sorry Andrew Lloyd Webber…you still haven’t measured up to this one.


Stuff I didn’t like as much:

  • The Rutles – Seems weird that I couldn’t get into this one.  It had a bunch of the right ingredients…but it just didn’t work for me.  Maybe it’s because I only like the Beatles on a surface level or something.  It’s got some decent laughs, but I don’t really need to see it again.
  • The Doors – Hey look…Val Kilmer’s naked with a bunch of naked girls and the story isn’t going anywhere…must be the Doors movie! 
  • The Beatles Movies – It’s not that I don’t like them…it’s that they’re all interchangeable to me.  I don’t ever know which one I’m watching and they didn’t really hold up over time, frankly.
  • Most of the Elvis Movies (except for “Roustabout”) – “Roustabout” only holds up for me because of how absurd it is.  🙂
  • La Bamba – I just don’t get it.  I didn’t feel like it spent enough time with Valensz as a celebrity and though I have really enjoyed Lou Diamond Phillips in other roles, I just felt like he over-acted in this one.
  • Blues Brothers 2000 – I’m as surprized that I saw it as you are.
  • Amadeus – Just a little too flamboyant and historically inaccurate for my taste.


Current Listening:

  • Ray Davies – “Working Man’s Cafe”
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”  (Quick review — This one worked for me right away.  Seems like one of the more accessible things they’ve done that I’ve heard.  Super-bummed that I couldn’t make the show due to being sick!)

Random Political Thoughts

I’ve got a bunch of thoughts coming out of the past couple of days in the political world.  Many of them are of a similar theme, but I couldn’t figure out a way to join them clearly in a single essay…so I’m going to do it kind of like one of my usual “random” posts…but all of them are political.


Apologies in advance for the length of this post.  And also for any contradictory stuff that finds its way through.  In the highly-charged political atmosphere, there’s bound to be some of that…


  1. Considering the tone of the rest of this post, I want to address something before anyone else can comment on it (should anyone want to).  I am very aware that I’ve been very critical of the Republican Party, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and (particularly) Rush Limbaugh in recent and not-so-recent days on my blog.  I’ve said some things that have been pretty harsh.  I know that.  It’s not worth your effort to point it out.  I have, however, also made an effort in recent days to be more fair about it.  I wrote a couple of posts toward the end of the last Presidential election that stated that I was going to try to be more fair and less aggressive toward my Republican friends/readers.  For the most part, I think I’ve done pretty well with that.  When I’ve been harsh toward a Republican, it has been a SPECIFIC person, (and at that a celebrity).  Most frequently, I’ve trashed Limbaugh, referring to him as (***deep breath***) “That fat, deaf, racist, drug addled piece of crap Rush Limbaugh.”  (I also wrote a very long post explaining that.)  Whereas that’s pretty mean, I would like to point out that it is not giving a blanket description to the entire Republican Party, nor does it imply that if you agree with Rush and/or the Republican Party that you must be just like him and are a bad person or anything like that.  I just want to point out, before all else, that as far as the whole of the Republican Party…I’ve tried to be nice lately.  As far as I’m aware, any derogatory or heavily biased statements I’ve made have been about specific public figures and not about Republicans/Conservatives as a whole and I’ve tried not to dismiss anyone’s opinion based solely on their political affiliation lately.  I’m saying that up front because I want to assure you that this isn’t coming from a place of hypocrisy…it’s coming from the same place I’ve been for over a year—I think.
  2. Like most people who care about political issues, I used to feel the need to be hurtful and aggressive about politics.  I have more than once called the Republican agenda under the Bush Administration “evil.”  I’m not prepared to retract that basic opinion, as I still think the Bush Administration (note again—I’m specifically referring to those who were IN POWER, not the people that voted for them) were motivated by goals and pursuits that I think were/are fundamentally wrong.  I can’t change my feelings on that.  However, I can avoid assuming that every Bush (or McCain, as it may be) VOTER I know is/was motivated by similar goals.  I know a TON of Republicans (they outnumber the Dems I know, in fact).  Let’s say I know 100 Republicans, though I’m sure that’s not accurate.  Of those 100, there might be 1-2 that I think are a little bit out there or are bad people.  The other 98-99 are people who I know and respect—some even love…so I shouldn’t treat them and their beliefs/opinions poorly just because I like blue better than red (with no offense to Sammy Hagar).  We can disagree, but we don’t have the right to intentionally hurt each other based on actions of people in the government that we have absolutely no power to control (and don’t mislead yourself to think that you do).
  3. Okay…  So with all of the above in mind…  I posted the following as my Facebook status on 3/22/10, just a little bit after the Health-Care Bill passed.  “Derek Brink thinks the Conservatives have every right in the world to be disappointed and the Liberals have every right to be overjoyed. But the name-calling, insults, and cruelty MUST STOP.”  That got a bunch of “likes” from people on both sides of the political fence and generated a few nice comments as well.  At the time, I was referring to specifically the activities and comments I was seeing among some of my Facebook friends.  There were a lot of very harsh things being said and I was watching a lot of “de-friending” happening, too.  I thought that was disturbing…so I posted that.  But those words took on a deeper meaning to me when I found out that in the hours (and days) that followed, Liberal Congressmen had begun receiving death threats, and one of them even had a blogger dig up his home address and post it online telling everyone they should “drop by” and let him know what they think.  That’s disgusting.  I don’t care how much you disagree with someone on ANY issue, doing them (and their families) physical harm and encouraging murder makes you a terrible person and (far lesser than that) certainly doesn’t help people respect your chosen political party.  Behaving like that doesn’t make you a good Republican (in fact it makes you a very BAD one as the majority of your party would NEVER do that kind of thing).  All it makes you is a criminal who belongs in prison.  I am in no position to speak on behalf of my Republican friends, who I KNOW are in the majority of the GOOD people in the party…but I do hope and expect that they are embarrassed and ashamed to have these radicals connected to the same votes as their own.  Just as I’m embarrassed to have to take ownership of the extremists of my own party.
  4. Random thought…  If you can’t say anything good about your party, don’t say anything bad about the other one.  I get it…  A lot of people hate Democrats.  A lot of people hate Republicans.  That’s been said.  But if you want to convince me…  Stop telling me how bad my party is (often getting the facts wrong) and try selling me on yours.  What’s so great about your party or your candidate?  Can you only say negative things?  What’s your side doing that’s positive?  This is already WAY too long…but in brief, I think mine is doing great things.  I think the Health Care Bill will prove to be very good for America—especially for the poor and elderly.  I think we’re going to make some major strides in education soon.  I believe we’re going to get our troops home from Iraq no later than the end of Obama’s second term—God willing.  (Also, it’s been very good to see Obama in recent days trying to shift our focus to AFGHANISTAN, where it should’ve been ever since 9/12/01.)  I think we’re ALREADY making major headway in improving America’s foreign image.  And I’ve personally been making about $100 more a paycheck since Obama got into office because of things he’s put in place.  I’ll stop there…but those are a few the things I think my party’s doing that are good…
  5. I think a lot of the outrage right now comes from the same place it did under the Bush administration.  Essentially, it just sucks to know that your side is in the minority.  I know what it’s like to be on the losing side.  I know how hard it is to invest in a political party/candidate and have the majority of America vote the other way (or whatever happened in 2000…but let’s just put that behind us…).  It sucks, and the natural reaction is to strike before being struck.  I get it.  I’ve done it.  I was wrong when I did, and those behaving that way now are just as wrong.  Rather than assume that everyone who calls themselves a Democrat is out to destroy the American way of life…how about trying to work together?  How about praying for and with one another?  How about finding the places where we DO have common ground?  That’s what I should have been doing during the Bush administration.  My bad.
  6. I’ve got to say, kind of in line with #5…  I’ve been called a Socialist a lot lately.  I said some bad things during 2000-2008…but I never once called a Republican a Nazi like some of the idiots in my party have done…so I think it’s fair that I be at least a LITTLE outraged when someone calls me a Socialist.  I love America.  So do you.  If we didn’t…we wouldn’t argue about it at all, we’d just let it go on without us.  So let’s not call each other names.  (And, I’m sorry…but if you want to call me something that I’m fundamentally NOT and want to force that kind of label on me…there comes a point where being nice and trying to find a common ground fails…and we can take it outside.  Where you’ll probably kick the shit out of me in the name of freedom…)
  7. Okay…  Specifically about Health Care.  There are some MAJOR misconceptions about the bill floating around.  People say it will fund abortions (whereas the truth of the matter is that Obama signed an executive order stating that it won’t—and people are trying to discredit that too, either because they don’t understand what an executive order is and does or they DO understand and just don’t want to admit that Obama met them on some common ground).  People think it will mean an increase in taxes on small businesses.  (I spoke with one person who complained that they will now face “up to” a 43% tax—and I asked what they pay now, and it’s about 39-40%…so I’m not sure that’s necessarily going to break the bank in the first place…but aside from that, there are actually going to be major tax CUTS for small businesses.  I doubt this person will even be paying the 40% they’re paying now.)  Also contrary to popular belief—if you’re already insured, you CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN AND YOUR PHYSICIAN.  Your doctor isn’t going to lose his/her job because of this bill, and their appointment book WILL still have room for you.  You are not obligated to accept the same plan as the homeless guy on the street…and I doubt that the emergency rooms will be much worse than they are now, as a side note…  And this last one I’m going to mention is HUGE…I don’t know if it’s a misconception or not, exactly…but it seems like a lot of people don’t know about it.  This bill means that preexisting conditions are a thing of the past.  (Which means that my brother can start getting that thing in his lung that could be—but probably isn’t, God willing—cancer looked at again.  You’ll pardon me if I think that’s good news.)  I’m sure there are downsides that I don’t know about, or that I just think don’t outweigh the positives…  But I think there are a LOT of positives.
  8. This is NOT the ruination of America.  It’s actually supposed to be beneficial.  And I think it will be.  I can’t back that up yet…but even if it doesn’t work, America is specifically designed so that if something doesn’t work, we can change it.  If this sends America into a downward spiral…it’ll be changed.  Don’t worry.  Our system is specifically designed to prevent the overall ruination of the country.  That doesn’t mean the dollar won’t lose some worth for a while or that we’ll always be the most powerful nation in the world…it just means we won’t collapse entirely.  Take it easy.  Your life will go on basically uninterrupted in most cases.
  9. What bothers me most about all of the hate and aggression flying around on the net right now is that it seems like the Christians are being the cruelest.  (Shocking, huh?)  Probably 95-99% of my Facebook friends are people that I know through St. Louis Christian College or through various church/para-church organizations.  I’ve seen a lot of them say really terrible things about the Democrats lately.  One person (not a staff/faculty member at the college—don’t want to get anyone needlessly in trouble) simply posted “F*** Democrats” as their Facebook status.  Nice.  Godly.  Friendly.  It always sucks when people drag religion into a debate that doesn’t HAVE to include it…but it’s so much worse when you’re of the SAME religion.  I’ve had a number of my Christian friends play the Jesus-card trying to win an argument in recent days.  I don’t think Jesus would like that, frankly.  Seems abusive of everything He is to use His name to hurt people…but it’s not like that’s anything new.  He’s probably getting used to it.  Aside from the Pro-Life (non)-issue related to the Health Care debate, I really don’t see the need for religious objection in the first place.  It’s just a cheap trick used by the truly desperate as a trump-card in a losing hand.
  10. …but if we ARE going to talk about religion…  Last time I read the Bible, I saw that when Jesus was here, He cared for the poor and needy, giving all He could give to them, and that He asked us to do the same.  I don’t know why people don’t get that.  Even if Jesus didn’t say that stuff…doesn’t the fact that we’re all HUMAN mean something?  Even rats huddle together for warmth.
  11. I dream of a world where we have no TV analysts to tell us what to think.  I have been wondering for some time what would happen if the President of this country (regardless of who he/she might be) gave a speech that was not immediately followed by several hours of analysis (which, lest we forget, begins with the word “anal” which would seem to indicate where most newsmen have their heads in the first place).  People might have to think for themselves and actually live with the words of the highest elected official for a while.  It’s amazing how often I hear friends just parroting Chris Matthews, Keith Olberman, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck…and so on…  I would love to know what would happen if people had to express themselves with their own thoughts and didn’t have sound-bytes to fall back on.
  12. Okay…  Now to boil this down…  I know I’m kind of a jerk a lot of the time on the blog.  To be fair, for a lot of what I write, I hear a jokey “tee-hee-hee” tone that may not come across in the post…sometimes sarcasm, satire, and goofiness don’t translate well without tone of voice.  Or, contrary to that, sometimes I just say mean stuff about people like Rush Limbaugh—though I’m going to have to play the tit-for-tat card on that one.  I’m not always fair.  I’m not always generous…  But I try not to blindly generalize, intentionally insult my friends, or be completely irresponsible and incite things that could get out of control.  So…even though it’s coming from me, I hope it still means something…  Words hurt.  And, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, “God damn it, you’ve GOT to be kind.”  Disagreement is fine.  Criticism is fine.  Unprovoked attacks and name calling…  That’s just pointless.


…sorry for the length of the post and that it too me so long to post it.  I’ll post something lighthearted tomorrow to make up for it.  I hope there was something in this post that made it worth reading.  I mostly just hope it’s taken in the spirit that it was written.  I’m for a better America, as I think most people are.  But the only way we can get there is to stop hurting each other.


Current Listening:

  1. The Ting Tings – “We Started Nothing”
  2. David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”
  3. Johnny Cash – “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”

Robert Culp Died (etc.)

Robert Culp died…and all anyone is talking about is “I Spy.”


Personally, I’ve never seen “I Spy” and I remember him better as Ray’s father-in-law on “Everybody Loves Raymond” and at least two performances as the murderer on “Columbo.”  Also, word has it he was a pretty good playwright.  Not to mention his run on “The Greatest American Hero” and in several low-budget murder-mysteries (which he was kind of stuck in for a while due to being typecast—which is just another way of saying he was great at it).  Always entertaining any time I saw him in anything, and created some awesome TV memories. 


Rest in peace, Robert Culp…you awesome murderer, you.


In other news, I’ve been kinda sick.  Caught my brother’s cold.  Hacked up something that had several colors of the rainbow in it the other day.  That was fun.


Also, Mike Feldman’s new record is now officially on iTunes.  Type in Michael Feldman and look for “State of Mind.”  You’ll find him.  (I think he’s also got “Waitin’ on the Rain” up, too—on which I played bass.)


And finally…I’ve got a political post I’m working on…but it’s got a far different tone than most of the political posts I’ve written.  It’s probably going up tomorrow or Friday.  Just wanted to give you something to look forward to.  🙂


Quick CD Review — Finally found David Bowie’s “Reality Tour” live record that came out a little bit.  Good listen–especially for those of us who saw the tour.  Performances are a little rough in some places…  But disc two has some real gems on there.  Plus, live versions of “Life on Mars?,” “Be My Wife,” “Battle for Britain,” “The Motel,” an INCREDIBLE version of “Loving the Alien,” “Five Years,”  and a version of “Under Pressure” that’d do Freddie Mercury proud.  Well worth the $15 I paid.

Well…there’s some change for you…

For better or worse, the health-care thing passed tonight.  I don’t really want to debate it at this point, other than to note that contrary to popular belief NO FEDERAL MONEY WILL BE USED FOR ABORTION* (with apologies to all of my Bible College friends who seem to have missed that).  But I will say this…


You can now stop asking when Obama’s going to get around to all of that “change” he promised.


And that’s all I’m going to say about it.  I’m shocked and honestly a little bit happy that it happened.  But, like the rest of the world, I haven’t seen the program on its feet yet…so who knows?  I might hate it once it gets going.  I might love it.  But, change has taken place (or at least will once everything’s all signed and sealed).


…now…how about that war???


* = Just so you all know, I had linked to a Fox News article to that effect…but a little bit after the vote passed, Fox News CHANGED THE CONTENT of their article to slant it toward a “…but that could change and there are still ‘abortion-related services’ (whatever the hell that means) that would be covered” bias.  That’s Fox News for you.  I was trying to be nice and cite an opposing view’s accurate reporting…then they fair-and-balanced their way into having the link removed and this paragraph written.  That’s the type of class that the major Republican media outlet shows on a day-to-day basis.  Just thought you’d like to know.

St. Patrick’s Day Wrap-Up

I wish you all a just-barely-belated happy St. Patrick’s Day.  This was a pretty good one for me.


Took the day off work and went down to the Dogtown parade in St. Louis.  The “official” city parade took place over the weekend, but Dogtown is our city’s Irish district and they always do their parade on the actual DAY of St. Patrick’s Day, no matter what day of the week.  In fact, there are a few blocks that pretty much shut down and no one can even get out of their own driveways.  It’s pretty cool.  Plus, as my brother pointed out, the Dogtown gathering has more people who’re actually celebrating their heritage and aren’t just wearing green and drinking because it’s the thing to do that weekend.  Sure, there’s some of that…but if you wander around that part of town on St. Patrick’s Day, you’re more likely to find a real Irishman than you are wandering around the “city” parade on the preceeding weekend.


Okay…so we went down to the St. James the Greater church and set up shop.  They have pretty good food—though they do SLICED corned beef as opposed to the preferred roast—and there’s a pretty good band that plays.  The one drawback this year was that for some insane reason, they didn’t have any Guinness!  What’s up with that?!?  But, nevertheless, it was a pretty good gathering.


Afterward Dad, Dave and I went to a local bar (away from the hustle and bustle of Dogtown) and had Guinness and food there.  That was nice.  Service wasn’t great because they were short-staffed on the biggest drinking day of the year…but that’s excusable.


Mostly, I just had fun hanging out and listening to good music.  Can’t beat that…even if you do learn the hard way to bring your own Guinness next year…  It was especially good to get to do that with Dad and Dave at the same time.  It’s a rarity that we all find our way to the same parade, so that was nice.


Then I took a nap. 


Then I tried to log in to work to catch up a little…but found that my IP Address had disappeared from the screen I log in from, so I couldn’t get in…  Which means I’m gonna have to work a little on Saturday…


…but it was worth it.


So, happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Hope you spent it with people you love eating and drinking things that you like.  And do remember…that “Snakes out of Ireland” thing is a metaphor.  St. Patrick actually took the Gospel into Ireland and drove out the sin.  I’m not going to harp on it…but that’s what we’re supposed to be remembering, and most people don’t know a thing about it…so Google it if you’ve got a minute. 


As for me…one more episode of “Father Ted” and I’m off to bed.  I’m tired and sore from the day and I could use some sleep…which is pretty sad since we walked for maybe a mile and then sat down all day…  I’ve really got to start working out!


Current Listening:

  • Drive-By Truckers – “The Big To-Do” — Pretty good.  not my favorite thing they’ve done…but far from my least favorite.  Of course, I’ve only listened to it twice, so I might have a completely different opinion about it soon.
  • The Irish Aires – “You Asked For It” — Actually haven’t popped it in yet…but they’re the guys who played at the church today, so I thought I’d give ’em a plug.  🙂