Some Things I Liked In 2018


Since I don’t feel comfortable doing a traditional top ten list, I’m just going to list a few things that I liked in 2018.

When it comes to last year’s movies, my two favorite films were both comic book adaptations.  Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse both redefined what we traditionally expect from the comic book genre and they worked as both entertainment and as something a little bit deeper.

Among the other films I liked this year, Mission Impossible — Fallout reminded us of just how exciting a good action film can be while Game Night was hands down the best comedy of the year.  Deadpool 2 proved itself to be a worthy sequel while Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, Free Solo, and Shirkers made this a great year for documentaries.

David Peisner’s Homey Don’t Play That was a fascinating book about the history of In Living Color, examining both the show’s tumultuous history and how it continues to be relevant today.  Also worth reading: Thanks A Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite by Roger Daltrey and Cult City by Daniel J. Flynn.

In a year that seemed to be dominated by adaptations of comic books, it seems appropriate that one of the best comics was about the history of the medium.  Written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Ryan Dunlavey and Adam Guzowski, Comics For All was the second installment in their Comic Book History of Comics.  No matter how much you think you may know about comic history, you’ll learn something new from Comics For All.

When it comes to the year’s video games, I’m torn.  Red Dead Redemption II is a totally immersive gaming experience that challenges much of what we’ve come to expect from video games.  On the other hand, Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of the most purely enjoyable games that I’ve ever played.  If I had to pick a best, I’d go with Red Dead Redemption but Spider-Man is the game that I’ll probably end up replaying a month from now.

On television, I continued to enjoy and occasionally be baffled by HBO’s Westworld.  I also enjoyed playing around with Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive program that introduces you to a likable game designer and then give you the chance to totally mess up his life.

In the States, BBC America televised the the animated restoration of the “lost” Doctor Who serial, Shada.  As an episode of Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, Shada was just as disappointing as many have warned that it would be, an overextended mix of inside jokes about Cambridge.  However, as a piece of Doctor Who history, it was priceless.

Finally, as far as the year in music is concerned, I recommend The Who’s fifth studio album, Who’s Next.  I know Who’s Next came out in 1971 but good music is timeless.

Book Review: Thanks A Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey


On March 1st, 1959, a 15 year-old student at Acton County Grammar School brought an air gun to school.  Years later, the student would write about how he and a friend were “in the changing room, mucking about after football,” when someone fired the gun.  The pellet ricocheted off a wall and struck another student in the eye.

The student who brought the air gun was taken down to see Mr. Kibblewhite, the headmaster.  Mr. Kibblewhite announced, “We can’t control you, Daltrey.  You’re out.”  As the now-expelled student left the office, Mr. Kibblewhite added, “You’ll never make anything out of your life, Daltrey.”

Roger Daltrey, of course, went on to become the lead singer of The Who and is considered to be the epitome of a charismatic rock and roll frontman.  As for Mr. Kibblewhite, he went on to lend his name to the title of Daltrey’s autobiography.

As befits someone who, has a reputation for being one of the most down-to-Earth people in rock and roll, Thanks A Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite is a short and straight-forward account of Roger Daltrey’s life, from his youth in war-scarred London to his time as the frontman for one of the loudest bands in rock and roll to his current life as one of rock’s elder statesmen.  If it’s not as salacious as some other rock-and-roll tell-alls, that’s because Daltrey never gave into the excessive behavior that proved to be the downfall of many of his contemporaries (including, of course, his former Who bandmates, Keith Moon and Jon Entwistle).  As Daltrey tells it, he avoided hard drugs to such an extent that he was briefly kicked out of the band for flushing Moon’s stash of pills.

As is true with The Who’s best albums, the heart of Thanks A Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite is found in Daltrey’s close but often difficult collaboration with Pete Townshend.  Even after performing with Townshend for over fifty years, Daltrey still seems to be struggling with how he feels about his legendary bandmate.  Daltrey’s admiration for Townshend’s talent is obvious but he also writes that Townshend could be like “a scorpion with a good heart.”  Daltrey recounts not only the numerous times that Townshend was dismissive of the rest of the band in the press but he also tells the full story of the infamous fist fight in which Daltrey knocked Townshend out with one punch.  And yet, when Townshend is falsely accused of downloading child pornography, Daltrey is just as passionate about explaining how he knew his bandmate was innocent.

Daltrey also writes extensively about Keith Moon.  In Daltrey’s telling, Moon comes across as a unique, one-of-a-kind talent who was ultimately destroyed by his need to keep up with his own wild reputation.  Daltrey is open about often becoming exasperated with Moon but he also writes that, for him, The Who ceased to be The Who after Moon died.  Without Moon, Daltrey writes that The Who’s anthems were “now just songs.”

Thanks A Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite is a short book and Daltrey is such a straight-forward and no frills storyteller that it makes for good airport and airplane reading.  For fans of The Who, this book is essential.

Rockin’ in the Film World #18: The Who’s TOMMY (Columbia 1975)


cracked rear viewer


Before MTV ever hit the airwaves, there was TOMMY, Ken Russell’s stylized cinematic vision of The Who’s 1969 ‘rock opera’. It was a match made in heaven, teaming Britain’s Wild Man of Cinema with the anarchic rock and roll of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon (not to mention England’s own enfant terrible,Oliver Reed ). Russell both captures the spirit of Townsend’s hard rock opus and expands on it visually with an all-out assault-on-the-senses musical featuring an all-star cast that includes an Oscar-nominated performance by Ann-Margret as the mother of “that deaf, dumb, and blind kid” who “sure plays a mean pinball”!

The Who’s original album cover

Townshend, the group’s primary songwriter, had been experimenting with long-form rock’n’roll since the beginning, notably the nine minute suite “A Quick One While He’s Away” on their second album A QUICK ONE (retitled in America HAPPY JACK). TOMMY was…

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One Hit Wonders #12: “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by The Blues Magoos (Mercury Records 1966)


cracked rear viewer

The very first concert I saw was… er, a very long time ago! Teenybop pop rockers Herman’s Hermits headlined the show, and the opening act was The Blues Magoos, performing their #5 Billboard hit, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”:

The Blues Magoos, from The Bronx, were early practitioners of psychedelic rock’n’roll, going so far as to name their debut album “Psychedelic Lollipop”. They were loud, heavy, and wore these electric suits that blinked on and off during their rendition of the classic “Tobacco Road”:

Even without the suits, they were pretty far out, man! The lineup consisted of Emil “Peppy Castro” Theilheim (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike Esposito (lead guitar), Ralph Scala (organ), Ron Gilbert (bass), and Geoff Daking (drums). They made the rounds of all the TV shows, like AMERICAN BANDSTAND, THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR , and the above clip from a Jack Benny-hosted episode of THE KRAFT MUSIC…

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