Saturday, March 13, 2010

Reading/Watching/Listening #2

READING: Great Irish Tales of Horror edited and introduced by Peter Haining. I grew up reading Haining's marvelous horror anthologies, which were easily found at the library and were always prized scores in second-hand shops. Since St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, I've been dipping into this antho for some dark fortification. And that's appropriate, because the rainy weather we've had of late has been off-and-on Irish dreary -- just the kind of thing to set the mood for tales by Le Fanu, Stoker, Shiel, Hearn, and Maturin. Besides: cool whispers like Vincent O'Sullivan's "Will" and Fitz-James O'Brien's "The Child Who Loved a Grave" creep me out in a way that modern slice 'n' dice horror never can. Sometimes the quiet stuff really is the best...and most unnerving.

WATCHING: Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Yeah. So sue me. I never get tired of this one. Not only do you get to hear Sean Connery sing, you get that lush Disney fifties look where every color is notched way past full vigor. The real world never looks like this, and maybe it shouldn't, but each March when I watch this one I love the hour-and-a-half when it does.

Plus: that banshee scared the hell out of me when I saw Darby at the movies as a kid. This was in the middle sixties, so it must have been a revival. Still, the theater was so packed that I had to sit on the balcony stairs. And when grand old Albert Sharpe climbed into that phantom Death Coach to trade his life for his daughter's, I cried like a baby. Right in my popcorn. Most years, I still do. Such emotional displays make me want to shake my fist at ol' Walt Disney in his cryogenic tomb beneath the Matterhorn (of course, these days I'm easy -- I cry at the end of Gladiator, too).

LISTENING: Live in Dublin: Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band. I am late to the dance on this one, but -- just amazing. Classic American folk music. Channeled thru New Orleans. Served up in Ireland by a guy who must have rigged up a Ouija board and plugged into the energy of all three Clancy Brothers (and Tommy Makem!) that night. If you can listen to The Boss sing "Old Dan Tucker," "Erie Canal," and "Jesse James" and not smile, you must be dead, pardner. (And great to see Springsteen record "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live." Nice tip o' the hat to the Del Lords, one of the greatest unsung bands ever.)