I am a history professor who grew up in Western New York, but now find myself teaching in Western Montana. My primary areas of interest and research are in American cultural history, especially in relation to the intersection of popular culture and politics. This blog is primarily to help me keep in touch with my far-flung family and friends, and give me the chance to spout off a bit on whatever happens to be on my mind.
Dr. John's Record Shelf is my weekly radio program on KDWG, 90.9 FM broadcast from the University of Montana Western. My goal is to offer an eclectic mix of various styles, genres and eras, focusing primarily (but not exclusively) on music that you won't hear anywhere else on the dial (at least not in SW Montana). My co-host, Art Vandelay and I (with the assistance of station flunky Rico Muckman) also provide some additional bits to liven up the show, including Three People I Know (where I mention three people I know), The Cultural Corner (where we engage in lively banter on art, literature and poetry), Dr. John's Top Five (where we take a shot at ranking almost anything), and Record Shelf Theater (where we re-create a scene from some famous movie, play or TV show). If you find yourself in Dillon, tune us in; otherwise, below are some lists of songs that have been aired on recent shows:
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121104
Bill Fay, "This World"
Steve Goodman, "Turnpike Tom"
Ani DiFranco, "Which Side Are You On?"
Bruce Springsteen, "We Are Alive"
Decemberists, "Don't Carry It All"
Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"
Bruce Cockburn, "Wondering Where the Lions Are"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, "Oh Susannah"
Bob Dylan, "Soon After Midnight"
Charms, "American Way"
Belle & Sebastian, "I Want the World to Stop"
Krayolas, "Find a Girl"
Beatles, "Tomorrow Never Knows"
Neko Case, "Things That Scare Me"
Avett Brothers, "Will You Return"
Craig Finn, "New Friend Jesus"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121028
Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues"
Golden Shoulders, "I Will Light You on Fire"
Spoon, "Finer Feelings"
Girls, "Just a Song"
Devandra Banhart, "Shabop Shalom"
Gaslight Anthem, "The '59 Sound"
Those Darlins, "Mystic Mind"
Son Seals, "I Can't Hold Out"
Johnny Ace, "Pledging My Love"
Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Dandelion"
Aimee Mann, "Borrowing Time"
Elliott Smith, "Between the Bars"
Carpenters, "It's Going to Take Some Time"
Hayes Carll, "Girl Downtown"
Fiery Furnaces, "Even in the Rain"
Billy Ward & the Dominoes, "Chicken Blues"
Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause, "You Think You Know Me"
Sophie Zelmani, "Most of the Time"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121021
Cabaret Voltaire, "No Escape"
Us3, "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)"
Hank Mobley, "The Break Through"
Rodriguez, "Sugar Man"
Mary Weiss, "My Heart is Beating"
Pete Shelley, "Think For Yourself"
Buddy Holly, "Take Your Time"
Raincoats, "No One's Little Girl"
Detroit Cobras, "Ya Ya Ya"
Public Image, LTD, "Public Image"
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, "Bad Reputation"
Love Is All, "Wishing Well"
Louie & the Lovers, "I KNow You Know"
Forty-Fives, "The Devil Beats His Wife"
John P. Strohm, "Better Than Nothing"
The Naysayer, "Currency"
Sir Douglas Quintet, "Who'll Be Next in Line"
The Seeds, "Mr. Farmer"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121014
TV on the Radio, "Second Song"
Can, "Oh Yeah"
White Stripes, "300 MPH Torrential Downpour Blues"
Mary Lou Lord, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"
T-Bone Burnett, "The Murder Weapon"
New Bomb Turks, "Statue of Liberty"
Ramones, "Surfin' Bird"
Paris Sisters, "Dream Lover"
Lee Dorsey, "Ride Your Pony"
Michael Hurley, "Sweet Lucy"
Gary Numan, "Cars"
Neil Diamond, "Delirious Love"
Undertones, "We All Talked About You"
Shadows of Knight, "Shake"
Cub, "Magic 8 Ball"
Rilo Kiley, "The Frug"
Terry Allen, "Lubbock Woman"
Kinks, "Lincoln County"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121007
Corin Tucker Band, "Summer Jams"
Go-Betweens, "Too Much of One Thing"
Feelies, "Change Your Mind"
Billy Bragg & the Blokes, "Baby Faroukh"
Marcia Griffiths, "Don't Let Me Down"
Velvet Crush, "Hold Me Up"
Chris Mills, "Calling All Comrades"
Insect Trust, "Hoboken Saturday Night"
Broken West, "So It Goes"
REM, "Exhuming McCarthy"
Dire Straits, "Twisting By the Pool"
Tom Rush, "Urge for Going"
Paul Westerberg & Joan Jett, "Let's Do It"
Fred Astaire, "Cheek to Cheek"
The Who, "I Can See For Miles"
Liz Phair, "Uncle Alvarez"
Steve martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, "King Tut"
This is the second of my catch-all posts passing summary judgements on movies I saw over the past few months (mostly last summer), for which I didn't get around to composing full reviews. Last week I covered the movies I did not like. This week, some that I enjoyed but fell short of classic (or even semi-classic) status.
Hysteria (Tanya Wexler)- This is an oddball kind of movie, with a provocative theme about doctors treating women for the titular malady in the nineteenth century, but the tone is almost that of a screwball comedy. Maggie Gyllenhall, who is usually pretty good, goes over the top with the stereotypical elements of her role as the crusading feminist, but the rest of the cast strike just the right tone (Rupert Everett, as the main character's dissolute best friend is the best). I wouldn't go out of my way to see this again, but it was a pleasant enough way to spend one evening.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb)- This franchise has developed to the point that it requires little more than strong actors and top of the line special effects to maintain its entertainment value (or maybe that's just inherent to the character?). But now, a little while after seeing it, I can't remember any particular points that made it special, and certainly nothing to justify a retelling of the origin story so shortly after the Tobey McGuire version (was that even ten years ago?).
Bernie (Richard Linklater)- I could rank this higher just on style alone, but in the end the story is just a bit too slight to stand with Linklater's best work (though, now that I think of it, the plots to Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, and School of Rock aren't exactly Tolstoian in conception either). Jack Black plays a beloved small town mortician who murders Shirley MacLaine playing a small town harridan, and the rest of the community wants him to get away with it. I have a feeling that this is a movie that will grow in my estimation when I see it again, which is almost a sure thing.
God Bless America (Bobcat Goldthwait)- I was always a fan of Bobcat Goldthwait's stand-up comedy, and he's brought his peculiarly warped sensibility to the movies he's directed (check out World's Greatest Dad as well-- quite possibly the best Robin Williams movie ever). This is truly black comedy, as an ordinary schlub, mistakenly believing that he is dying, goes on a murderous spree targeting all the idiots who diminish our collective humanity (you know, like reality TV stars and high school bullies). The humor is extremely dry as well as dark, so this won't be for everyone, but I found it among the most original movies I've seen in years. The picture above features the stars Joel Murray (Bill's little brother) and Tara Lynn Barr, both of whom are excellent.
Next time, I'll list out my favorites from last summer.