Of Vooks & Vamps

John Hartford Playing by Filberthockey cortesy of Wikipedia
John Hartford Playing by Filberthockey cortesy of Wikipedia

Many years ago,  a musician by the name of John Hartford released a pivotal album called Steam-powered Aeroplain. In the process, John and his band almost single-handedly launched a new musical tradition known as Newgrass. One of the cuts on the album was called, With a Vamp In the Middle. At first, I thought that this was some weird take on the word, vampire. But later on, with the help of a cheap guitar and a musical instruction book on jazz theory, I was able to understand the true meaning of a vamp. For as every jazz musician knows a vamp is just a jazzed-up musical bridge.

Following are some of the lyrics from “With A Vamp in the Middle”

Make my bed
With a crease in the middle
Make my home
In the Hollywood of shills
And I make my living
With a hillbilly fiddle ....

Well, I wrote this song
With a vamp in the middle
And I knew when I wrote it
That I'd written it for the fiddle
(lyrics from Vamp In the Middle by John Hartford)

Now that one we're one decade into the 21st century,
a new term has emerged on the hip culture scene
that sounds a little bit like the vamps of the 50's, 60's and 70's.
It's called a vook and I am grateful to
Alan Rinser over at Book Deal for bringing this new phenomena to light. 

The best way to describe a vook is as a cross between a video and a book.
The resulting visual file turns out to besomething that can be downloaded
onto your computer, iPad or iPhone. Anne Rice has one,
called "The Master of Rampling Gate" and then there is another
one entitled "The Sherlock Holmes Experience",
which is pure Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You can also purchase such classic titles
as "Call of the Wild",
"Treasure Island" and "Jack and the Beanstalk". 

UMMM ... This could get interesting.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson by Sidney Paget
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson by Sidney Paget

A Good Movie For Memorial Day

Movie Poster, The Hurt Locker
Movie Poster, The Hurt Locker

Memorial Day was yesterday and so the country took a much-deserved holiday. This meant the streets weren’t very crowded, so I was able to take my bicycle around town on mostly deserted streets and byways.  Temperatures were warm but not hot up here in northern New England, which made for a nice day outside, but ocean swimming at this latitude is still just for the polar bears.

So I did the next best thing and watched a war movie. Seems that the first wave of movies about the ongoing Middle East wars, are just beginning to circulate the theaters and video stores. Strange as it may seem we are now to view first-rate movies about wars that are still in progress. A logical conclusion must be that our ability to assemble a good movie script and crew very much outweighs our ability to end a military conflict.

Of the current films, I missed the Messenger, but did get a change to see the film that won the academy award for best picture. The effort is called The Hurt Locker and the engrossing cinematic tale follows the daily events of a bomb demo squad. Tension mounts as the small crew travels around Bagdad and Iraq going about their delicate task of diffusing unexploded IED’s.

This kind of warfare has to be new ground for movie makers (not to mention all the people involved in the actual event). What follows is one very vivid glimpse of life in a different kind of war zone. Very tightly wound and realistic and I can see why the film received the top award. In a nutshell the story follows a three-man demolition team and in particular the leader of the group a Sergent by the name of William James. Much credit goes out to the screenwriter, Mark Boals, who spent actual time embedded with a demolition crew in Iraq, before he wrote the script.

What is so riveting about this film is the way the story depicts the obsessive and sometimes fatal attraction that certain men have for war.