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We live inside a dream

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The night terrors didn’t show up until Monday. I watched the two-part Twin Peaks: The Return finale twice on Sunday night, first alone with my chair pulled up close to the screen and the volume cranked, clinging to every second as has been my custom all summer long. The second time was in public, at Radio Coffee and Beer, which has been showing the episodes on a delay every Sunday. This was the first time I’d gone, which is a shame because the episodes were projected on a big screen with a full house of fans. (The closed captioning was also on, which made me realize just how much [ominous whooshing] this show has.) It was interesting to watch the reactions. For the first hour, people were laughing and clapping and cheering. For most of the second hour, dead silence. Read more…

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Questions in a world of blue

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Every answer Twin Peaks delivers seems to raise three more questions, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The show is not a puzzle to be solved, but a seemingly perpetual self-generating mystery machine. With only the two-hour finale left, some form of “closure” is on the way, but what that will look like is anyone’s guess. I have my own wish list (super-secret Michael Ontkean cameo, perhaps?), but it doesn’t matter; this has been by far the most thrilling TV viewing experience I can remember, even in those weeks where it seemed like nothing was really happening at the time. I’m on board for wherever Lynch and Frost bring us in for a landing, but just for fun I thought I’d look back on as many of the outstanding mysteries I can remember and put my odds on whether they’ll be resolved or not. Read more…

Drink Full and Descend

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Forget “It is happening again.” How is this even happening? Somehow a cable network gave David Lynch 18 hours and seemingly unlimited resources to spatter the contents of his subconscious all over a huge canvas, allowing him to veer from absurdist comedy to stark terror to experimental filmmaking to musical numbers, and airing it weekly installments like a regular TV show or something. It’s only possible because Twin Peaks is a brand and David Lynch is a name, and Showtime wanted to be perceived as something other than the network that let Dexter run for 80 seasons too long. We’re never going to see anything like this again, and I am savoring every life-giving hour. Read more…

When You See Me Again It Won’t Be Me

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You may have heard that Twin Peaks returned Sunday night after a 25+ year absence. I had no interest in writing weekly reviews of the new series because I want to have the full experience and let it wash over me without worrying about taking notes and coming up with coherent thoughts immediately afterward. But a few days later I still can’t stop thinking about it, so I’m going to write about it anyway – not a review, exactly, just a collection of impressions, observations, predictions, and random thoughts about the first four hours. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ALL OF PARTS 1-4!

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I was dreaming when I wrote this

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Prince is dead and I don’t feel so good myself. 2016 is already notorious as the year the music died, but this is the rock ‘n roll tombstone I dreaded most, the bullet I thought I dodged last week when Prince’s plane made an emergency landing and he was rumored to be at death’s door. When that proved to be a false alarm (at least temporarily), I made a mental note to see Prince next time he came to town because, after all, who knows when it might be the last time? Well, the last time will never come, hard as it is to believe. So all I have are memories, presented here in roughly chronological order…

“1999” was the song that got me hooked. “Little Red Corvette” had already been a hit, and I liked it fine, but “1999” was something different – a “party in the apocalypse” song before that became a genre unto itself, with three different lead vocalists trading off lines. It was enough to convince me to part with my allowance – this would have been my sophomore year of high school – and purchase the double album. I quickly learned I would have to turn down the volume on certain songs, like “DMSR,” ‘Lady Cab Driver,” and especially “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” which left absolutely nothing to the imagination. This was before albums carried ratings and warning labels; of course it was, because it was Prince himself, with the next album’s “Darling Nikki,” who scandalized would-be future First Lady Tipper Gore into forming the PMRC and putting rock ‘n roll on trial. (I have a treasured memory of watching a Donahue  episode devoted to the controversy with my mother, who was well aware of my Prince fanaticism, and when Phil D. read the lyrics to “Head,” “Sister,” and “Darling Nikki” in a prudish, disbelieving tone, my mother laughed and laughed.)

That follow-up album, Purple Rain, was no mere record for me – it was an obsession. I still remember being thunderstruck the first time I heard “When Doves Cry” on the radio. I had no musical talent or knowledge, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but this was something from another dimension. I bought the single and played it incessantly. I thumbed through Billboard at Mr. Paperback to find the album release date. I bought the cassette from the local record shop before they’d even had the chance to put it in the display case, on a break from my first job at Burger King. All my friends bought it too, and whichever car we happened to be cruising around in that summer, you could be sure Purple Rain was blasting out of the speakers. I played it so often in my first car, I wore the printing right off the cassette.

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I don’t know how many times I saw the movie in theaters – a half-dozen? Living on the coast of Downeast Maine, I’d never been to a rock concert – certainly nothing bigger than a band playing at a high school dance. Now I was a senior, though, soon to graduate and head to college. My friends and I went to Sears in Bangor the morning tickets went on sale for the Purple Rain tour stop in Worcester, Mass. We got them. I bought a purple shirt while I was there, and I may have it still. Our seats were pretty bad, but it didn’t matter. The concert was an out-of-body experience. I stayed overnight at my friend’s Emerson College dorm in Boston and the next day got the phone call letting me know I’d been accepted there, too.

I kept up with Prince throughout my college years, and he never let me down. I saw him again three years later on the Lovesexy tour. My friends and I camped out all night in front of the Boston University bookstore to get the tickets. The next day we learned that a car had gone out of control and killed someone waiting in line at Tower Records. We chose wisely.

I never stopped being a fan, but I did stop buying his new stuff about 20 years ago. Freed of his contract with Warner Bros., he became too prolific to keep up with. The returns were increasingly diminished; though he was always capable of churning out an engaging new tune, the quality control went out the window in favor of triple albums and internet-only releases. He had no concern for his legacy, which is admirable, but also meant his absence from streaming sites and YouTube and (despite a high-profile announcement about a deluxe Purple Rain edition a couple years back) remastered versions of his classics. I suspect all that stuff is coming now, though. (Does Prince have any heirs or relatives at all? Who knows?)

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I’ve had friends over the years who have found it odd that I was such a Prince fan. He wouldn’t seem to fit my profile. But then again, that was the beautiful thing about Prince. He had something for everybody, and boundaries, musical and otherwise, meant nothing to him. “White, black, Puerto Rican, everybody just a-freakin'” went one lyric. “Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay?” went another. What did it matter? If you grew up in the ’80s never quite being sure about your place in the world, he was there for you. And he wasn’t some fringe artist – he was the biggest star imaginable. Talk about the American dream. In the America of my dreams, it’s Prince on the $10 bill.

Terminator Talk on “Split Reel”

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Happy New Year! Turns out, I’m not quite finished yapping about The Terminator quite yet. Actually, this podcast for Chicago’s CHIRP Radio was recorded months ago, but it’s only now seeing the light of day. Give it a listen, will you not?

http://v2.chirpradio.org/podcasts/looking-back-at-the-terminator

Top 10 Movies of 2012

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It’s been over three months since I’ve posted here, but I’m required by law to post my top 10 movies of the year, so here I am. As always, there are a few likely contenders I haven’t had the chance to see yet, most notably Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and Not Fade Away. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s what I liked this year:
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