Peace In Our Bummernacht

Merry Zappadan, 2018, to all good people of all lanes and neighborhoods of the winding and ever-expanding universe of all things Zappa. How, pray tell, are things in the orbit of Zappa today?

Well, first, we are sad to report that Frank Zappa has still stopped refusing to die. It is truly impossible to believe that 25 years have passed since his time experiencing and feeding into the conceptual continuity ended. It is somewhat obligatory for me to explain to you what we are doing here in this thing called “Zappadan”: It is a time of remembrance for our mustachioed hero, from the day of his death, Dec. 4, through the day of his birth, Dec. 21. Now we remember him all other days, too, because the concept is continual, my fellow freaks. But this here, this is a time to really flex your Zappa.

Now. What else happened via Zappa stuff in the year 2018?

If you dig vinyl, 2018 was a year for re-releases! Lumpy Gravy! Trout Mask Replica! Burnt Weenie Sandwich! Chunga’s Revenge! All re-released on yummy vinyl!

The big news in 2018, though, was a long-awaited AZ/DZ detente!

As announced by Dweezil in May:

Recently, we Zappa siblings (Diva, Ahmet and Dweezil) got together with the goal of resolving our differences. Once we sat down and actually listened to one another, we found a much greater understanding of each other’s intentions.  We regret that our communication broke down and that things were misconstrued. It may be a bumpy road at times – we are a passionate Italian family – but we have decided to work toward privately discussing issues rather than using public forums and lawyers.

We are hopeful that if any of our father’s fans have felt conflicted, they can join us in the peace of our resolution.  With our best feet forward, we are moving ahead and will faithfully deliver much more of our father’s indefinable brilliance, also known as the “World’s Finest Optional Entertainment.”

That sounds good to me. May it lead to many more years of Zappa Plays Zappa and other notions.

Reference: Inside the Zappa Family Feud (Rolling Stone)

In the meantime, here at the AITWK, we’re going to be talking about a vital year in Mother-dom: 1968. Fifty years ago. We’re Only In It For The Money. Lumpy Gravy. Cruisin’ with Ruben and the Jets. And me. All born in that fabulous year.

Oh, we will be talking about these albums. And more stuff as well.

But enough of my yakkin’. What do ya say? Let’s boogie!

God Schmod, I Want My Alexa Watch

I am rocking an iPhone 5. 

Not an iPhone 5S. An iPhone 5. All good Apple dorks know what that means. 

It means I am one consonant away from eligibility for updates. It means my iPhone will be on OS 10.3.3 FOREVER. It means my iPhone is no longer supported by Apple. And while Apple was nice enough to include support for its Airpods with my ancient phone, an iPhone 5 will not support an Apple Watch. (That support also requires support for at least iOS 11, only available on 5S or higher). 

So I was excited last year with the introduction of the iPhone X, but I was nonplussed by the price point. And so I instead had the battery replaced, which fixed the real issue I was facing with the phone, that the battery was draining every 15 minutes. After that, the phone was fine. 

So I watched the rollout in September with interest and was glad to see the iPhone XR address the price point. But I still don’t think I’m budging, not  until this phone tells me it just plain won’t let me look at Facebook any longer. 

Why am I hesitant? Because. Much of my motivation of wanting the upgrade is the Apple Watch. Except this one thing: I don’t like Siri. 

Or, perhaps, it’s that I’m just used to another digital assistant, known as Alexa. These gizmos I have all over the place. I am used to that voice, the smooth delivery, the natural-seeming personality. Compared to it, Siri’s is just plain jarring. 

Maybe it’s just the form factor I’m used to. But I think the assistant I prefer is and probably always will be Alexa. I am already signed up for the in-auto version of the gizmo (you have to sign up to be invited just to buy the friggin’ thing). 

So. If they can put Alexa in my car soon, when are they going to put her on my wrist? 

This is vital. Because, I assume, if you’re using a watch, you will be using the personal assistant much more often. 

God schmod, I want my Alexa Watch. 

Widows

Steve McQueen does not think his audience is stupid. 

In fact, the dude gives his audience great credit. He does not invest much in exposition. He trusts that you will do some of the lifting in his attempt to deliver a story, and he does this like few directors can. 

For instance: There is a scene in McQueen’s heist caper movie Widows that is so smart and so laden with story detail and, simultaneously, social commentary that it has more potency per tablespoon than cinnamon. And it just involves this car driving while two people sit inside the car and argue. 

When the scene begins, it’s weird because the camera is kept outside of the car the whole time, mainly shooting the landscape of some city blocks over the driver’s part of the windshield. The shot lasts long enough that you become conscious of it and begin to wonder why the director is doing it. 

And then you realize why, and it is an astonishing realization. Because it tells you everything you need to know about the politician inside the car, of his likely expected entitlement, of his legacy, of the distance he can set between him and his constituency and still expect to be elected. That scene delivers the essence of Jack Mulligan’s character, and in fact explains the larger political context generally, and it does not draw a diagram for you to get there. 

And while a heist film like Ocean’s Eight earlier this year was marketed as “hey this is like the Ocean’s movies, but with broads, isn’t that great and progressive and shit?” all that movie did was make a heist movie that was about the heist and replaced the dudes with women. Widows is not about the heist. It’s about the characters, specifically, Veronica, Linda, Alice, and, later, Belle. Their motivations are more urgent than those of Deb Ocean’s petty little revenge quest:  As widows of thieves, they are being pinched by some bad hambres for the money. And these characters, and these actors who play them, they rise to that challenge. 

McQueen’s pacing is dangerous, but effective, as it was in 12 Years a Slave. His story (or perhaps the story of Jayhawk and co-writer here Gillian Flynn) forges the most unlikely of alliances or, perhaps, friendships. And this heist film is not about the heist–in fact, were it not for a few twists at the end there, the heist itself would seem anticlimactic. This is, in my opinion, a feature, not a bug, in the movie Widows

So this ain’t your normal heist flick. What it is, kids, is what an artist does. Happy little clouds. All struck up on the canvas that moves. What a perfect movie. 

In Other News

  • Aaron found the “drop cap” button.

This Might Get Weird

I am trying out the new Gutenberg editing system for WordPress, a step I have been procrastinating because, you know. Change. Icky. So forgive me if posts look a little weird around here for a while. Meanwhile, lets use a few pictures taken Thanksgiving to see how the thing handles pictures. I didn’t apparently think to take pictures of human beings. 

Gratitude.

In Other News