Category Archives: Film

Clouds in My Coffee: Carly Simon, Warren Beatty, and Lessons Learned

Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” is a song that so many people (in the U.S.) at least are familiar with. It is another song that so eloquently says “eff right off,” and is a post-relationship review of how she fell victims to schemes and lies.

I posted the above version because I love the classic, no distractions song. I also really love the album cover because Carly Simon looks so beautiful and stylish. Eat your heart out, mouthy babes like Denise Richards.

There is a music video for “You’re So Vain” that is pretty…uh…interesting. The song takes a different turn than the version above, and I found it to be jarring, but perhaps you will feel differently.

Carly Simon has been mostly coy about who “You’re So Vain” is about. However, she has revealed more recently that the song is about three different men. Additionally, she revealed that the second verse is about Warren Beatty:

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Oh, you had me several years ago,
When I was still naive,
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair,
And that you would never leave,
But you gave away the things you loved,
And one of them was me,
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee,
Clouds in my coffee…

Damn you, Warren.

I have, personally,  taken issue with Warren Beatty ever since I was in 8th or 9th grade and first saw the film Splendor in The Grass, a 1961 starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, in his first theater role. In the film, Warren Beatty plays a young man who essentially drives a young girl crazy after dumping her under his father’s orders and societal pressure.

I’ve put the preview below, but I recommend a watch of the movie. This film was a crutch for me in early break-ups where I felt a sense of shame. The screenplay won an Oscar and is directed by the famed and controversial Elia Kazan.

Warren Beatty is a known player off-screen, which is no crime in itself. I do cringe a bit when I read he refers to himself as a “nice guy that has never misled anyone.” That’s a red flag if I’ve ever seen one.

The on-screen and off-screen antics of Warren Beatty aside, I appreciate the parallels between the “wisening up” after a heartbreak that Carly Simon sings about and Natalie Wood plays out in both pieces of work.

And ending on a happier note…we all learn to move on from the pain– victim no more:

Guest Post: “Music or Misery” with Tommy Barbee

Today, we’re trying something new because what better time to experiment in the middle of a societal breakdown?

Tommy Barbee is my former professional colleague, current colleague over on South Side Hit Pen, a daily source of creative inspiration, an excellent partner in conversation (ranging from modern philosophical and moral issues to extremely low brow humor), and, most importantly, we can get into fights and recover. I would certainly refer to him as one of my besties. Is the feeling mutual? Who’s to say? 🙂

Recently, he shared some musings of his own about this strange time and how it relates to a question originally posed by High Fidelitya book turn movie in 2000 (and seminal Chicago film) now turned show on Hulu. Enjoy.


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“What came first, the music or the misery?” – High Fidelity

As I sit here observing the now commonly accepted social distancing in affect as we attempt to offset the latest wave of impending doom that 2020 has thrown society’s way, I find myself coming back to this question. It’s a simple question, but an indelible idea that has stuck with me since my formidable teenage years. Sure, like every other angsty teenage boy that is now on the older fringe of Millennials, I spent more time than I’d care to admit listening to the likes of Weezer, Radiohead, and Coldplay mixed in with the more socially accepted hip-hop music of the time.

Was I anxious and depressed because I listened to OK Computer and later Kid A one too many times? Sometimes it felt that way, and I still refuse to listen to a Radiohead album from beginning to end so as not to spark a sudden bout of existential crisis.

As an adult that has distanced himself from the awkwardness of adolescence, I find myself feeling as isolated as ever in this time of unwavering panic. Once again, I’m turning to music to make sense of things.

It’s true, too much Elliott Smith can bring you down. Even so, he conjures such depth of emotion that somehow your life, or a generational experience, can be summed up in mere minutes. Right now, finding something– anything– that can help reflect or make sense of the emotions felt today is exactly the kind of “misery” needed.

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Feel free to connect with Tommy on Twitter: @kindableu.

A Brief, Strange, and Semi-Erotic History of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”

EDIT: Happy 73rd Birthday, David Bowie!

In 1942, French director Jacques Tourneur directed a film using by DeWitt Boden with the eponymous name Cat People.

Would you believe me if I told you that a movie made in 1942 called Cat People had some deleterious portrayals of women and human sexuality?: “The plot focuses on a Serbian fashion illustrator in New York City who believes herself to be descended from a race of people who shape shift into panthers when sexually aroused or angered.” Oh dear.

Nonetheless, the film is considered pioneer of the horror genre and cinematography.

40 years later, legendary American film writer and director Paul Schrader directed an early 80s update of Cat People with some huge 70s and 80s players: Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, and John Heard. The 1982 version of Cat People is described as an “erotic horror” on Wikipedia (if the appearance of Malcolm McDowell didn’t tip you off to the kind of party this is).
Continue reading A Brief, Strange, and Semi-Erotic History of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”

The Muppet Movie 40th Anniversary

Perennial childhood classic The Muppet Movie turned 40 this summer. Kermit the Frog goes on a cross-country mission to get out of the swamp and into Hollywood while simultaneously running from the evil Doc Hopper, who just wants those tasty frog legs. And so began the first of many (seven!) Muppet movies.

I used the phrase a “childhood classic”, but that is too simple as The Muppet Movie and, just as significant, The Muppet Movie (Grammy winning and Academy Award nominated) score have continued to be huge personal influences on me as an adult (as I am sure it has to many of you).

I listened to the soundtrack to discuss some of the themes that are more tangible to adults.

Continue reading The Muppet Movie 40th Anniversary