Are You Not Entertained?

How many times a day do you seek to be entertained? It is elusive. It is dangerous. The rush of stimulus bombards us. The mob mentality of pop culture is easily distracting and much is nonsense. Yet, I love music and books and movies and have no intention of stopping my search for fine entertainment. Here continues a monthly series of the entertainment that has occupied my time, for better or worse.

MUSIC 

eagles1

Former member Don Felder, who complained about his place in the hierarchy as an Eagle, including this documentary from 2013 in which he co-starred, was a constant thorn in the side of Glenn Frey, but that’s only one element of the long, complicated marriage, divorce, and reconciliation of the 1970s band, The Eagles, explained by everyone in the band. The birth of classic rock stations erupted to carry their songs forward after The Eagles disbanded in 1980, and when they reunited in 1994 for their Hell Freezes Over tour, fans were ecstatic. Even if you don’t care for their harmonies or musicianship (Really?), I find it hard to think about the 1970s without them. In the 1980s, Glenn Frey and Don Henley pursued single careers, but I respect their work more as group members of The Eagles whose success and influence in the history of Rock and Roll are undeniable. We’ve all heard “Hotel California” probably 300 times, but when I’m alone in my car with the windows down, and the sun is thinking about setting, the guitar harmonies of Joe Walsh and Felder still resonate and transport me back to the pleasure and pain of younger days. I highly recommend it for those who know little about them, forgot a little, or have loved them for decades. RIP Glenn. What a collection of beloved celebrities who have passed in 2016!  5/5.

Winding_Stream

As an American history buff, I love social history, so what could be more fun than looking at our great-grandparents values and feelings through the lens of music? Therefore, The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music captured my imagination. Many are aware that Rock and Roll has been heavily influenced by Gospel and Country, which fused the chords and set the seeds to influence future giants like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and a host of British invaders who appreciated the musicianship and heartfelt songs. I can’t say I’m a big country music fan, but I respect its place, its singers, and I admire the pluck of “Big Daddy” Brinkley who created a national audience from a “border town of Del Rio, Texas, (and) set up a new radio station across the river in Mexico. With 500 kilowatts of broadcasting power, XERA was ten times as powerful as the biggest American stations, which were forced to live within the federal ceiling of 50 kilowatts. Its signal easily reached all forty-eight states, not to mention much of Canada, and within a few years spawned a slew of copycat border stations.” Read more about the Carter Family and XERA found here:  PBS.ORG, THE CARTER FAMILY

Or, rent and watch Beth Harrington‘s 2014 informative documentary.  4/5. 

Speaking of Documentaries…

People criticize the attention and profits made by the discovery of photographer, Vivian Maier. The questions raised in the 2014 documentary Finding Vivian Maier cannot compete with the woman and her captivating photography. There is a mystery surrounding this nanny-recluse who played a life-long game as a secret observer of people and treasure hoarder. When she died in 2009, obscure and alone in Chicago, director John Maloof and Charlie Siskel pulled the threads and discovered an amazing story about this 20th Century version of Emily Dickinson. Both were shy, atypical, prolific artists caught in the moment of creating poems and pictures than selling themselves. Posthumously, their art soared in popularity. In Vivian’s case, right or wrong, her work is admired around the world. It’s the complexity of Vivian that makes the documentary compelling. I disliked the directors filming themselves in the narrative. Their inclusion was offputting. The people who employed her and the children she nannied have warm as well as alarming stories that create a haunting portrayal of a very talented woman who was fiercely independent and bizarre. Would she mind the hoopla surrounding her work? She lives through her work as a ghost, garnering admiration without intimacy, and somehow I think she would like that.  4.5/5 

Check out her photography at http://www.vivianmaier.com

BOOKS 

1_27_the-wright-brothers (1)

David McCullough‘s easy style is graceful, well-researched, and entertaining. He’s my go-to historian regarding all things U.S. History. The Wright Brothers(2015) continues Professor McCullough’s elite reputation for portraying the human side of famous Americans. Orville and Wilbur are two boys from Ohio who are armchair scholars and possessed a drive to achieve flight. Their family helped shape them. Their father was a minister and their sister a Latin teacher. They shared the same house, and they shared the trait of inquisitiveness. All were all productive and supportive. It’s the Wright Brothers who attain the fame and the patents. Their trials at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, surviving mosquito swarms, and wind storms while they practiced their contraptions was my favorite section. Once they flew, you would think the story was over. But their involvement with the French and the U.S. military adds depth to their plane story as it gave flight to the First World War. 4/5

TELEVISION 

Game of Thrones Seasons 1 – 4. 

(Spoilers) Now here’s  a guilty pleasure. I love the cinematography and the developed characters. I love the Magical Realism. Yay for Giants and three-eyed crows. Was I glad when Joffrey died? You bet. Was I troubled when Khaleesi frees the slaves only to chain up her dragons? Yep. Was I sad John Snow’s red-headed wildling died in battle? Yes!  If I had a broadsword would I stab Ramsey Bolton for torturing Theon? In a second. I will miss The Hound. Which character would I be in the series?  Gwendoline Christy’s Brienne of Tarth. I love everything about her.  Obviously, I’m hooked with the Medieval soap-opera which must find room to show a bum and boob in every episode. Thankfully, they have also included chunks of dialogue to develop the characters (i.e., brothers Jaime & Tyrion in the cell, bonding over the simpleton who beat the beetles). They all have good qualities and disgusting qualities which make them very human. Tyrion is an original character you don’t often get to see on television. His smarts and kindness and retribution are very interesting to watch. What’s there not to like? Probably the violence. And if you have something against boobs and buns. However, it’s more than a junior high video game. It’s wonderfully done with characters I care about and root for. Now on to season 5. Don’t tell me what happens. 4.5/5  

53 thoughts on “Are You Not Entertained?

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  1. I still recall the first time I heard The Eagles. It was ‘Take It Easy’, and I bought the single the same day. Although I preferred Steely Dan over the years, I still have The Eagles’ early albums.
    I have also seen the Maier documentary. I like her photography, but was less taken with the documentary than many others were.
    I have never seen ‘Game of Thrones’, nor read the book about the Wright Brothers.
    As for Country Music, with a few exceptions (Patsy Cline, Crystal Gayle) I can take it or leave it. I generally leave it.
    Nice roundup, Cindy. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. I love Steely Dan. I prefer to listen to their music, too, we share that. Still, I admire the hell out of The Eagles. GoT is a popular craze. It’s an easy hour to watch an episode and a punch in my quiet day. I reckon that’s why I like it. I’ll not apologize. Thanks for your thoughts, Pete!

      1. No need to apologise for Game of Thrones, Cindy. The only reason I don’t watch it is because it is on Sky satellite here, and I don’t have it. Otherwise, I am sure that I would be a fan! (Off to listen to Dr Wu now…)
        Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Yes we are being bombarded. I suppose occasionally we are entertained by Hollywood and the news media but I’m coming to the conclusion we were better off in those prehistoric days when we could devour books and create scenes in our own mind as we read. The emphasis these days is on violence in videos produced whereas the majority of movies up to the 60’s were in subtle ways promoting citizenship, good old fashioned romance, and humour.

    1. I’m not an advocate for violence, but history is made up of it, so I guess I’ve grown desensitized over the years. I love books and prefer them over just sitting in front of the television. 🙂

  3. I’m not much of a book reader, 4 pages in.. I’m asleep:)
    Country music love Patsy cline has always been high on my list, even t this day , if I’m in the car I’ll stay in the car till the song is over .
    Well now the Eagles , yep I’m with ya 100 % . Grew up with them , love them all together . Could listen to them over and over , and get taken back in time , well I feel the same way about Rod Stewart too , and the list goes on.
    I’m not a game of thrones person .
    My tv passion is old movies .

    1. Oh, good! I learned a lot, too. I can’t say I was an Eagle fanatic–there were other groups that moved me more, but I loved the documentary as a social commentary and truly loved their history and seeing how the SoCal climate of the early 70s birthed a string of Rock and Roll that I admired. Just give me musicians who can play their instruments, and I’m happy. The Eagles did that.

      1. It did make me laugh that Don Henley was Don and Don Felder was Felder. Total hierarchy haha. The bit where Glen says that the band wouldn’t exist without a hierarchy was very revealing, as was the fact that he said only him and Don had kept the band popular during their break off.

        1. It’s a philosophy for sure. Like Glen said, when you are on a team, not everyone gets to touch the ball. It is true as The Eagles progressed it became more Henley and Frey leading so naturally they want a larger cut of the $$pie. There was a kind of competition, like Lennon and McCartney, where their oneupmanship stirred the creative juices. I liked Joe Walsh. He was always humbled and fine with a supporting role in the matter.

          1. LOL. I didn’t know John taught him how to tear up hotel walls. I always liked Walsh’s song “Life’s Been Good”. My favorite part was him telling how he was warming up and they took those chords and it began the intro to “Life in the Fast Lane”.

          2. Yeah. It was also great to see Felder explain how he came up with the chords to Hotel California. He didn’t come out of it well with his singing did he though?

          3. Whether Felder liked it or not, Henley and Frey emerged as the voices of the Eagles. It was their star power, not Felder, who catapulted the band to super stardom. He thought he was equal and deserved equal billing, but it didn’t happen, and he couldn’t get past that. Too bad. He’s still got more money in the bank than the most of us.

  4. Those 50 kW clear channel AM radio stations which were allowed to broadcast both day and night had amazing range. I lived in the Denver area in the days when AM radio meant music. After dark, we listened to stations such as KGO, WLS, KMOX, KSL, KRLD, WRNO, KOMA, KNX, and others. Those call signs meant that as the night wore on our horizons expanded to San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Dallas, New Orleans, Oklahoma City,and Los Angeles. On a good night you could listen to American Airlines’ program Music ‘Til Dawn as it chased midnight across the country.

    I don’t know the provenance of the following, I copied it long ago, but it captures the time . . .

    With the car open to the wind, and the radio tuned to an AM station riddled with static from a thunderstorm on the horizon, memories flicker in the sweetness of the moment. The miles themselves dissolve every question except the one that matters. What lies waiting there, just over the rise . . . ?

    Who knows? Maybe it was Winslow, Arizona.

        1. I’m surprised how few students know about their personal histories. I always have to create an assignment when we get to immigrant history where they are forced to ask questions to their parents/grands.

          1. I’m very curious as to what sorts of questions your students are forced to ask of their parents and grandparents. Do you also have them ask questions about their great grandparents. If you do that, they will have to think about the last 100 years at least. Still, though, what sorts of questions do you have your students ask?

          2. When did they arrive to America? What’s the point of entry? What’s the migration? How far back can you go? Asking grandparents to remember their parents, etcetera. We have a Native American population in school. That’s always interesting. I’ve also had them do additional research on their results and come up with a family tree or about the region or profession of them.

  5. I would love to learn more about the Eagles, they were a bit before my time. I love Hotel California and the lyrics, it’s a classic! Sounds like a lot of stuff going behind the scenes of the band.

  6. I’m completely with you on Game of Thrones…I look forward to each new season and I’m guessing you’ll enjoy seasons 5 and 6 just as much as the others. Few TV shows have managed to surprise me as much during its run to date as that one. I also enjoyed Finding Vivian Maier very much, as I’m interested in street photography and own a lot of books (including a couple of her photographs). It’s a fascinating story, isn’t it? One does wonder though about the decision to make her pictures public. They’re of great historical and artistic value, but then it’s telling that she never showed them to anyone in the art/photography world herself (that we know of).

    1. Hi Stu! Oh good, I’m glad we agree on GoT. I get paid on Friday and plan on buying the series off of Amazon. Which character do you like best? Which story line would you jump into?
      Vivian Maier! Never heard of her until the documentary. I do remember you raving up the doc, however, and it help influence me to finally rent it. In the end, she’s dead, and it can’t possibly bother her. I think since she liked to play games of being a spy and invisible, she wouldn’t mind now that people are admiring her work because she can’t walk into the limelight. I like thinking of her as a ghost and I see her at a gallery exhibit whipping through the people and observing their expressions while they look at her art. My favorite shots of her are her self portraits. And tell me the shots of her shadow strategically placed in a picture doesn’t prove my ghost theory ;).

      1. Hard to say which character’s my favourite – there are a lot I like. The Hound is great fun, and there have been so many funny scenes with Tyrion and Bronn, too. Those self portraits are excellent – really inventive. If you’ve never seen them before you might like Lee Friedlander’s self portraits too…Maier was on a similar wavelength!

  7. One thing I’ve found as I grow older is that I have less patience with a book. If it doesn’t cut the mustard in the first fifty pages I don’t bother. With films, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who falls asleep after thirty minutes or so of most modern films.

    1. Ha! You struck me as an avid reader, I guess, because of your research and interesting historical posts. I will confide I have less patience for sticking with a book. I give it 100 pages. As far as movies go, just last night I watched ‘The Big Short’ and got half way through it and decided to wait until tonight to wrap it up. It’s so heavy with information, my tiny brain can’t absorb it all in one setting….

  8. My favourite bit could be Season 4 Episode 9. When Jon Snow turns to his mate and says “Hold the gate, if one of these bastards get through….” and his friend grimaces and replies “They won’t.” My favourite scenes are the ones where the things unsaid are what really is being communicated. He was sending his friend to die and his friend was saying that’s okay. On the other hand Tyrion is Season 2 is just the best.

    1. I LOVED the relationship between The Hound and Arya Stark. In fact, one aspect why I like the series is that enemies oftentimes spend time together and end up with begrudging respect or down right changing their minds. It’s a writer’s trick to do that, to have characters change from static to dynamic because of who they are influenced by. Nothing is more boring than black and white characters. Good vs. Evil characters. EVERYONE on every side is good and bad, it’s the perversion of honor that creates the horrors of war.

  9. Well … the Eagles were huge weren’t they. Still are. Got all their music on a USB stick in my car. Never tire of it.

    Game of Thrones. Still the best thing on TV? Love it. I’m waiting for the Extended Version – or Director’s Cut – whatever the hell they want to call it, I’m buying.

  10. Well … the Eagles were huge weren’t they. Still are. Got all their music on a USB stick in my car. Never tire of it.

    Game of Thrones. Still the best thing on TV? Love it. I’m waiting for the Extended Version – or Director’s Cut – whatever the hell they want to call it, I’m buying.

    1. I’m interested in reading ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ by George R. R. Martin. I hear he has another fantasy series in the making set in the future. I eagerly await! I have a friend who hates them; I think she’s heard their songs too much to appreciate them anymore. I understand. I like long pauses in between. Then open the albums and revisit.

  11. Hey, what a coincidence I just rewatched Gladiator!! Oooh I’d be up for watching The Eagles documentary. Glad to see you’re still enjoying Game of Thrones. I just finished Stranger Things but there’s only 1 season w/ 8 episodes, so very easy to catch up on.

    1. I was skeptical at first. As the series progresses, around the end of season 2, I had come to be interested in the characters. By the end of 3 I was hooked. Season 4 was spellbinding. In other words, the story lines and character development grow more graceful and as the series progresses, there is much less graphic sex. Now it’s just T & A once an hour. I’m glad they toned it down or I would have stopped watching it. I don’t need Medieval porn. I sure appreciate the set designs and the staging.

      1. Hmm … it does sound interesting. I’m always weary of current pop culture obsessions. Plus I tend to hate the making-it-all-up-as-you-go nature of TV series. A strong story arc is of paramount importance to me. I’ll give it a try some day. Thanks.

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