“Loving Cup” – The Rolling Stones … early demo from 1969 with Mick Taylor (first session)

Oh my freaking God!!!!! An early version of the classic Rolling Stones song “Loving Cup” … from 1969.  This is allegedly from tapes from Mick Taylor’s first session from the band.  While I prefer the final version that appeared on “Exile on Main Street” in 1972, this much bluesier version is still pretty jaw-dropping.  Seriously, there was no better band in rock history than the Rolling Stones from 1966 through 1972. 

“I’m One” – The Who from “Quadrophenia” as seen in “Freaks and Geeks”

Ever since I introduced the late 1990s TV show “Freaks & Geeks” to my son a few weeks ago, he has binge-watched the entire one-season show (18 hours) at least 5-6 times on Netflix.  It’s been nice reconnecting with the best show ever to be broadcast on TV about teenagers, if not one of the best series in TV history.

This particular scene is one of my favorites.  It’s one where the geekiest of the geeks, latchkey child Bill Haverchuck, comes home after school to watch TV by himself.  He catches an early TV appearance by comedian Garry Shandling and experiences a moment of unbridled joy laughing at Shandling and just hanging by himself.  I know that many people paint the life of a latchkey kid as unbearably tragic.  But speaking as a latchkey kid myself, sorry Dr. Laura, I had a f–king blast! And no, it’s not because I used the alone time to drink alcohol, do drugs, use my bedroom as a f–kpad, or look at porn.  I realize this is anathema to common ideas of parenting these days, but sometimes kids just need one-two hours a day to do absolutely nothing but veg.  Yes, socializing, exercising, doing school activities, etc. are important, but vegging is seriously underrated and kids these days don’t do enough of it. 

Anyway, I love the way that The Who’s “I’m One” … one of the best, but least-heralded tracks from their great album “Quadrophenia” is used in this scene.  One of the best uses of popular music for dramatic purposes ever.

“Come Sail Away” – Styx from “Freaks and Geeks” (1999)

First of all, you need to understand how much I loathe “Come Sail Away” by Styx.  If it were a federal hate crime to discriminate against a song, I’d be doing hard time in federal prison for committing crimes against this one.

But … this song works soooooo damn well in this wonderful scene from the first episode of “Freaks and Geeks,” the greatest show in television history about teenagers … and if truth be told … kicks the a– of any of the “best” feature films ever made about teenagers.

This is a scene from the Homecoming dance, where freshman Sam Weir shows up at the dance because his crush, cheerleader Cindy Sanders, promised him a dance.  She fulfills her promise and the dance between these two always lifts my mood.  Some moments are so incredibly sweet that if you dislike them, there is something seriously wrong with you.   As awkward as Sam is here, he has bigger balls than I did at the age of 14.

“Rev Meets God” from the BBC TV series “Rev”

This scene is the arguably the emotional climax of the BBC series “Rev.”  If you haven’t seen it, you probably should watch the entire series on Hulu Plus (if you’re in America).   It’s a funny, but also dramatic and complex show about a well-meaning, but seriously flawed Anglican priest played by Tom Hollander.  This scene comes near the end of its final season when the priest is at his lowest point, personally and professionally.

I’m not particularly religious, but this scene sums up what I understand God means for many people.  I realize women already think Liam Neeson IS God, but if God were to take human form, we as humanity could do a lot worse than Neeson’s characterization here.  There’s a good reason why Steven Spielberg picked Neeson to play Oskar Schindler in “Schindler’s List” over his alleged first choice, Alan Thicke.  No, I can’t quite figure out why Spielberg wanted Thicke for that role either.

“Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam” – The Vaselines / Nirvana

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The Vaselines’ most famous song, mainly thanks to Nirvana’s memorable cover on their MTV Uplugged Live performance in 1993. Released in 1988 on the EP “Dying for It,” the song is a bitter answer to the traditional children’s hymn “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” on par with XTC’s “Dear God” and Patti Smith’s psycho-sexual “Gloria” in terms of its anti-religious sentiment. However, “Sunbeam” may be more powerful because the music is so deceptively mellow, the lyrics hit like a fist. You can now find it on the excellent Sup Pop released compilation “The Way of the Vaselines.”

Oddly, the song is called “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” on all the Vaselines’ recordings even though the lyrics say “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.” Nirvana’s cover is titled the same way as the lyrics.

I’ve included Nirvana’s version below:

Trivia note: Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love named their daughter Frances after the Vaselines’ Frances McKee.

“True Porn Clerk Stories” by Ali Davis

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Who knows you better than your spouse or significant other?  Doctor … Therapist … Pastor?  Maybe … But did you also consider that clerk at the video store?  You know … the one you never make eye contact with, especially when you’ve visited the back room.  Well, you may not know them, but they sure know you.  And they make mental notes.  And sometimes even discuss you and what you’ve rented amongst each other.

“True Porn Clerk Stories” is Ali Davis’s extremely funny and insightful memoir of working as a video store clerk and her accounts of dealing with the customers who seem to rent only from the backroom.  Despite her frustrations with some customers (especially the ones who are either rude or … well … leave an unfortunate surprise in the video box when the video has been returned), she’s not as judgmental as you might imagine.  She uses her experiences with the backroom customers as an opportunity to understand their relation to sexuality and relationships … and also get a little revenge on the ones who were jerks (relax, no real names are given!).  It’s also a requiem for a part of the entertainment industry that’s all but disappeared, as streaming and renting by mail have dominated home entertainment delivery.

If you have a strong stomach and great sense of humor, it’s a really fun and fast read.

“The Headache Factory: True Tales of Online Obsession and Madness” by Jim Goad

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Stalking is a misunderstood phenomenon.  People generally don’t spend a great deal of time stalking those they dislike.  Because if you don’t like someone, why waste your time, right?  No, the nastiest, most vicious stalking typically stems from love that is spurned or not reciprocated in the way the sender feels they deserve.  This is the phenomenon that Jim Goad discusses in detail in his new book “The Headache Factory: True Tales of Online Obsession and Madness.”

Goad is a writer who has engendered a great deal of controversy since the publication of his justifiably famous (and infamous) “zine” from the early 1990s “Answer ME!”  I won’t go into Goad’s roller coaster career and life since then, because it has been documented to death in other places.  But to put it mildly, Goad is a polarizing figure who people either love or hate.  I haven’t agreed with a lot of what Goad has said over the years, but he does argue his points extremely well and like him or not, has always been a riveting read, a cross between Christopher Hitchens, Michael O’Donoghue, and post-1992 George Carlin. 

Which is why he probably engenders such an extreme reaction from all sides, most significantly from people that allegedly “love” him.  As Goad writes “Nearly all of my harassers display a pattern of intense idealization followed by extreme devaluation.  One day I’m the Messiah; the next day I’m Satan.”   The most heinous of Goad’s harassers are cataloged extensively in “The Headache Factory.”  Some may question why someone always seems to attract these types of followers, but to be fair, that’s a question that could be asked of any figure in the public realm.  It’s hard to say why certain people obsess over others.  Especially when the person being obsessed over has made it clear “On any given day I am typically trying to avoid people rather than befriend them.” 

But obsess they do.  Goad uses pseudonyms for all but one of his stalkers. The one he addresses specifically by name is a person who, arguably, is better known than Goad.  I won’t reveal this person’s name, because … you need to read the book.  But unlike most of Goad’s stalkers who have done little of note on their own (typically the scenario for most stalkers and trolls), this particular person is a real shocker.  Seriously, why would someone of this notoriety waste their time … and potentially risk their career … harassing Goad?  In addition, there’s another revelation about a best-selling writer from the 1990s who didn’t stalk Goad, but who employed one of Goad’s stalkers.  The revelation didn’t surprise me that much, but it does shed some insight over this particular author’s suicide in 2006.

There’s a thin line between love and hate.  The people who ride that line are examined in detail in “The Headache Factory” … all of them “fans” who didn’t like being ignored or didn’t get the recognition they felt they deserved.  Like a lot of Goad’s writing, “The Headache Factory” is a harrowing, but sometimes funny read.  Dave says check it out.

“Manhunter” (1986) dir. Michael Mann

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This was the first film featuring Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter character, approximately five years before Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of “Silence of the Lambs” in 1991. Based on Harris’s novel “Red Dragon”, director Michael Mann directed this extremely suspenseful, intense, and atmospheric tale of a troubled FBI agent called back into duty to find a serial killer the top FBI officials can not find. William Peterson does a masterful job playing the troubled FBI agent, Will Graham, a man physically and mentally scarred from an earlier assignment where he captured the infamous Lecter. It was a job where he had to think like Lecter in order to capture him … and this process landed him in a mental hospital.

While there was a decent, but ultimately unnecessary big-budget remake of “Red Dragon” in remake made in 2002 with Ed Norton as Graham and … that’s right … Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter … Michael Mann’s 1986 version is so much better. As iconic as Hopkins’ characterization is, Brian Cox may actually be a scarier Lecter, based on how low-key he plays the infamous mad man. Watch this incredibly intense scene where Lecter meets with Graham where Lecter tries to dominate Graham and oh-so-casually asks Graham for his home phone number.

The attached scene is the climax of the film with major spoilers, but it has one of the best uses of rock music and film ever committed to celluloid … Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” used to absolute sinister perfection.

“Manhunter” … along with David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” … were the jewels in the ill-fated DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group studio’s late 1980s forays into filmmaking. An ironic jewel, because “Manhunter” was not successful … but Hannibal Lecter was a movie star in the making … and Dino DeLaurentiis got his money back in spades with the 2001 film “Hannibal” as well as the 2002 remake “Red Dragon.”

If you have any love for this film at all … or are just fans of the Hannibal Lecter films … please check out the Projection Booth’s recent podcast on this film:

http://projection-booth.blogspot.com/2014/06/episode-170-manhunter.html

Trivia note: David Lynch was the original director attached to this film. As much as I love what Michael Mann did here, my mind is blown over the prospect over what Lynch would have done with this material.