July 31, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

Coming attractions for Viva Las Vegas (1964):

Another one in which Elvis was a racecar driver. Talk about your cookie cutter approach to filmmaking. At least the world got the title track out of it. A great review of Viva Las Vegas, complete with small screencaps, is here.


Liberty, Texas (population: 8033), is the Liberty County Seat and is 29 miles E of Humble, 42 miles NE of Houston, and 44 miles W of Beaumont. Liberty once stood at the head of navigation on the Trinity River. Founded near a 1756 Spanish settlement called Atascosito, American squatters began arriving around 1818. The town was granted a post office in 1836. Sam Houston practiced law in Liberty and maintained two plantation homes in Liberty County until his death. After the Battle of San Jacinto, officers of the Mexican army were held for a time in Liberty at a location now known as Mexican Hill. Liberty was incorporated in 1837 and became the county seat.

This building sits on one of the corners of the area once known as Plaza de Mercado, and was built in 1931. Plain perhaps, but I love the Art Deco details.

Liberty County Courthouse c. 1930, Moderne style

Liberty Opry on the Square, a.k.a. the Park Theatre

The Historic Ott Hotel, built in 1928 to capitalize on the oil boom, is yet another Texas hotel that is supposedly haunted.

July 30, 2007

"Take Five"

From left: Gene Wright (seated), Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Joe Morello (seated) in 1959, listening to a Time Out playback

From the Wikipedia entry:

"Take Five" is a classic jazz piece first recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and released on its 1959 album Time Out. Composed by Paul Desmond, the group's saxophonist, it became famous for its distinctive, catchy saxophone melody and use of quintuple time, from which the piece got its name. While "Take Five" was not the first jazz composition to use this meter, it was the first of United States mainstream significance, becoming a hit on the radio at a time when rock music was in fashion. It is also known for the solo by jazz drummer Joe Morello.

Time Out (1959)

Here is the "Classic quartet" (Dave Brubeck - piano, Paul Desmond - alto saxophone, Eugene Wright - double bass, and Joe Morello - drums) playing "Take Five" live in 1961, on a program hosted by Ralph J. Gleason called "Jazz Casual":

Most songs, even if they are instrumentals, have lyrics. Even, it seems, "Take Five":

"Take Five"

Won’t you stop and take a little time out with me, just take five;
Stop your busy day and take the time out to see I’m alive.

Though I`m going out of my way,
Just so I can pass by each day,
Not a single word do we say,
It`s a pantomime and not a play

Still I know our eyes often meet,
I feel tingles down to my feet,
when you smile that’s much too discrete,
sends me on my way.

Wouldn’t it be better not to be so polite, you could offer a light;
Start a little conversation now, it’s alright, just take five, just take five.


Though I`m going out of my way,
Just so I can pass by each day,
Not a single word do we say,
It`s a pantomime and not a play

Still I know our eyes often meet,
I feel tingles down to my feet,
when you smile that’s much too discrete,
sends me on my way.

Wouldn’t it be better not to be so polite, you could offer a light;
Start a little conversation now, it’s alright, just take five, just take five

Those were written by Brubeck and his wife, and singers such Al Jarreau have recorded a version with the lyrics.

July 29, 2007

R.I.P. Marvin Zindler

"Channel 13's Marvin Zindler dies at 85"

Growing up in Galveston, I watched Marvin Zindler on Channel 13 in Houston, frequently. His "Rat and Roach" reports, generally ending with his famous expression "Sliiiiimmmee in the Ice machine!", were local favorites. Zindler's legend began in 1973, when his reporting led to the closing of Texas' best known "bawdy house," as Zindler called it — a notorious La Grange brothel known as the Chicken Ranch. A best friend's mother is a Zindler. Uncle Marvin attended his Bar Mitzvah dressed completely in white, wearing glasses with blue lenses. He sort of stood out.

July 27, 2007

Professor Ravenwood's daughter

G4, at this year's Comic-Con, has the latest scoop (perhaps you've already seen it) on the Fourth Installment of the Indiana Jones Adventures:

So they are 25 days into shooting the new Indiana Jones and Spielberg assures fans that he is making this new film for them.

Ford looks great in costume (and maybe a little drunk?) and they finally reveal Karen Allen in costume as Marion Ravenwood!

Spielberg seems really psyched about it, and Harrison Ford looks like he's enjoying it too (and not at all "a little drunk").

I'd heard Lucas and Spielberg were planning to bring back one of Indy's love interests from the previous three films, and I'd hoped it was Marion Ravenwood. Kate Capshaw was perhaps easier on the eyes, and more obviously and superficially attractive in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but her character, 'Willie' Scott, was a bit too ditzy and cartoony - I guess the whole film was. And I couldn't even tell you who the love interest was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Karen Allen doesn't appear to have aged, at all. As of this posting (around 8 pm on July 27), IMDb still did not have it listed with her film credits.


Hallettsville, Texas (population: 2,345), is the Lavaca County Seat and is 18 miles S of Schulenburg, 113 miles W of Houston, and 123 miles E of San Antonio.

Lavaca County Courthouse, c. 1897

The Cole Theatre - most likely built in the '20s

July 26, 2007

Sinatra on a Wurlitzer

"I've Got the World on a String" as played on a 1948 Wurlitzer 1100 Jukebox:

Incidentally, "I've Got the World on a String" was one of Sinatra's comeback recordings, done in 1953 soon after he signed with Capitol Records. The arranger was Nelson Riddle, who imitated the style of Billy May ("slurping" trumpets and saxophones) on "I've Got the World on a String." Sinatra had hoped to do his first Capitol recordings with May, who was unavailable at the time. The recording session for "I've Got the World on a String" was the first time Riddle and Sinatra worked together.

Daingerfield gets no respect, no respect I tells ya

Daingerfield, Texas (population: 2,517), is 20 miles SE of Mount Pleasant and 41 miles N of Longview. The community was named in honor of Capt. London Daingerfield who was killed in an 1830 battle with Indians on the site that became the town in the 1840s. Daingerfield may actually get all kinds of respect, I don't know.

Morris Theater - built sometime in the 1940s and was owned at one time by Paramount back when the big movie studios operated and managed theater chains. It was/is beautiful.

Not likely to be mistaken for Times Square.

July 25, 2007

Heartbeat City

From the Wikipedia entry:

Heartbeat City is the fifth studio album by American new wave band The Cars, released in 1984.

The album was a return to form for the band, coming after their darker albums Panorama and Shake It Up
(Shake It Up was considered a dark album??). A number of songs from the album gained significant radio and TV exposure, notably "Drive," which played during the 1985 Live Aid concert, and "You Might Think," which had a memorable music video in heavy rotation on MTV in 1984 and 1985. Heartbeat City spawned a total of five Top 40 singles, two of which (the aforementioned "Drive" and "You Might Think") were Top 10 as well.

The album was produced by acclaimed producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. His commitment to the Cars album meant that he wasn't able to work on the forthcoming Def Leppard album, Hysteria.

Unless I'm mistaken, the first music video released for Heartbeat City was the one for the opening track, "Hello Again." Andy Warhol's appearance was heavily hyped by MTV, if my memory serves me correctly, and his presence elevated the band, as well as the video, to an entirely different level. Suddenly, The Cars were kind of an artsy band. I realize now Gina Gershon is in it at the very beginning:

The computer-generated effects in "You Might Think" were considered to be revolutionary and groundbreaking at the time. "You Might Think" won the first MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year:

"Drive" is a great song and so indicative of the "'80s sound." The video was directed by Timothy Hutton, and it is of course where lead singer Ric Ocasek met future wife Paulina Porizkova. I can remember that MTV made a big deal out of all The Cars videos from Heartbeat City, especially "Drive," having a "World Premiere" for it, and then playing it all the time. It was in heavy rotation, which meant it was played at the top of every hour. What a shame it is that Benjamin Orr isn't around any longer. He was so good on this, almost McCartney-esque:

The song and video for "Magic" take me right back to high school, whether I want to go or not. Ahhhhh....the summer of 1984.....This is another one MTV played all the time:

And finally, this is what led me to doing a post about Heartbeat City, or The Cars, in the first place - the title track. I love this song, and many moments in it give me chills. For me, it has always had an epic feel about it. This was Hearbeat City's equivalent of "A Day in the Life"; it was the last track on what was probably The Cars' greatest album. I think it's clearly The Car's shining moment and artistic/creative high water mark as a recording group.

Guitarist Elliot Easton is so perfect on it. He was definitely a guitar hero for me growing up. This is a great example of refined, subtle rock/pop guitar, yet if it was removed from the song, the entire sound of it would be different. Easton was one of many guitarists (Rush's Alex Lifeson and Andy Summers from The Police spring to mind) whose trademark was this very crisp and clean, shimmering, echoey, chorused sound. I don't remember this video:

Who is Jacki?

July 24, 2007


I love this frequently used picture of Lindsay Lohan with black hair. Wow! There's something very "Elvis Comeback Special" about her look that's cool.

"Real Love"

"Real Love" is a song originally written and performed as a demo by John Lennon, and subsequently reworked by the three remaining members of The Beatles in 1995. The song was released as a Beatles single in 1996 in the United Kingdom, United States and many other countries; it was the opening track on The Beatles' Anthology 2 album. It is the last "new" credited Beatles song to originate and be included on an album.

A lot of great information about Paul, George, Ringo coming together to work again on the John Lennon demos and the Live At the BBC, Anthology and Let It Be...Naked projects can be found at this old site, called "The Beatles Recording Sessions Update." Much of the information seems to come directly from the Special Features disc that came with the Beatles Anthology DVD. The following is from the section about the recording of "Real Love":

The Beatles with Jeff Lynne in February 1994

George, Paul and Ringo worked on "Real Love" in much the same way as they approached "Free As A Bird" - by using John's original demo as a backing track and recording around it. For Jeff Lynne, there were unwelcome technical problems:

Paul: There was a buzz all the way through the cassette. We just shoved that all onto Jeff. Once he'd got the buzz off, it showed up all the clicks that were on it, so he had to get them off as well.

Lynne: The problem I had with "Real Love" was that not only was there a 60 cycles mains hum going on, there was also a terrible amount of hiss, because it had been recorded at a low level. I don't know how many generations down this copy was, but it sounded like at least a couple. Then there were clicks all the way through it. There must have been about a hundred of them. We'd spend a day on it, then listen back and still find loads more things wrong. We would magnify them, grab them and wipe them out. It didn't have any affect on John's voice because we were just dealing with the air surrounding him in between phrases. That took about a week to clean up before it was even usable and transferable to a master. Putting fresh music to it was the easy part!

The "Real Love" demo needed to be almost totally re-arranged to make a coherent song. The piano introduction was not solidly played, but when the introductory figure was repeated after the first chorus, it was done much better, so the intro that finally appeared on the final product was actually the second appearance of the figure, copied and pasted onto the beginning of the song. Also, John never sang a proper ending for "Real Love," so Marc Mann took every other phrase of John singing "real love" from the interior choruses and created a fadeout coda.

Timing was as problem. Lennon recorded without a click track, requiring a bit of time compression and expansion to lock down the tempos. Lynne thought it was important to have a "good, steady pulse to record to," so time edits were done, but, recalls Mann, "subtly enough to not lose the original feel of John's phrasing. We're talking about within, maybe, plus or minus three or four percent."

For certain sections, Lynne and Mann decided to use the phrases on which John sang, but not the instrumental passages between each vocal phrase. Phrases were edited in Studio Vision, transferred to Logic Audio for time compression and expansion and then the audio was pulled back to Studio Vision for sequencing. Other processing jobs included the removal of unwanted instruments.

Paul: I don't quite like it as much as "Free As A Bird" because I think "Free As A Bird" is more powerful. But it's catchier. There was one real nice moment when were doing "Real Love" and I was trying to learn the piano bit, and Ringo sat down on the drums, jamming along. It was like none of us had ever been away.

This is the version of "Real Love" Lennon recorded on piano using more "professional equipment" than he had for his "Free As A Bird" demo. This must be it after Jeff Lynne cleaned it up:

"Real Love" is a gentle acoustic ballad, slightly melancholy, for which John cut at least seven demos towards the end of 1979 on more professional equipment than he'd been using in 1977. An acoustic guitar take had already been issued on the 1988 Imagine soundtrack and a piano demo was subsequently issued on the John Lennon Anthology in 1998 (neither of these two archive releases contain the exact demo that Yoko delivered to the Beatles). On all the available demos, John's voice is strong and clear, without a hint of the clipped, distant sound that was an obvious problem on "Free As A Bird."

This is the acoustic version used at the very beginning of the film Imagine: John Lennon. Parts of it remind me of the song "Isolation" off of the Plastic Ono Band album:

Ringo : "Real Love" is more of a poppy song. It was more difficult, actually, to turn it into a real Beatles track.

The Beatles sped up John's demo recording, so that their new version is a semi-tone higher than the original, and decided to use as little state of the art equipment as possible to give a timeless Beatles feel to the track. The introduction to the song is played by Paul on a celeste (the very same instrument which John played on the Abbey Road track "Because" and which is now in Paul's collection). Paul also plays harmonium and again uses the very instrument which John played on "We Can Work It Out" (also from in Paul's collection).

Lynne: Paul used his double bass (originally owned by Elvis Presley bassist Bill Black) and we tracked it with a Fender Jazz. Paul went direct to the desk but also used his Mega Boogie amp and we took a mixture of the two signals. George used a couple of Strats, a modern Clapton style one and his psychedelic Strat
(the one he uses on "I Am the Walrus" in the Magical Mystery Tour film) that's jacked up for the bottleneck stuff on "Free As A Bird." They also played six string acoustics and Ringo played his Ludwig kit.

Almost all the piano heard on the completed "Real Love" is John's original. Paul also doubled John's solo vocals, almost subliminally, in parts where the original was "thin".

July 23, 2007


Luling, Texas (population: 5,080), is 47 miles S of Austin and 13 miles N of Gonzales. Early settlement of the area began in the 1840s. The discovery of the Luling oilfield in 1922 prompted rapid growth in the community. Luling at one time had the reputation for being "The Toughest Town in Texas," no doubt in part due to the high percentage of roughnecks there to work in the oil fields.

This Battle Ax ghost sign was the main draw:

The Stanley Theatre, c. 1948

Rock-A-Bye Motel