Butcher's beef diagram with movies and podcasts instead of cuts of meat

Curated Beef, September 2022

 

My favorite time of year is early fall. The weather is no longer proximal to a bowl of hot soup, kids are back in school so all of my parent friends have regained a tiny bit of sanity, there is football if you’re into that. I watch less movies and TV overall during this time, and what I do watch tends to skew toward stories appropriate to the spooky season. So this Curated Beef edition will be a little light on movies and whatnot, but expect an Alleged Beef Guide to Halloween 2022 toward the end of September.

Instead, we focus on music and activities befitting the best months of the year here in Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA).

 

 

Music

 

Masayoshi Takanaka wearing a red suit and playing guitar

Masayoshi Takanaka (and related acts)

I recently discovered Masayoshi Takanaka and I want to spread the good vibes to all of you. Alleged Beef is proudly pro-yacht rock, pro-noodling, and Masayoshi may be the purest manifestation of the ethos outside of a Guthrie Govan concert. Takanaka has been releasing records since 1976, which range from jazz-funk to Steely-Dan-esque California noodling to bossa nova. Underneath it all is unceasing virtuosic, upbeat guitar licks. The genre, I’ve learned, is called city pop.

I am partial to the 1978 record¬†Brasilian Skies and 1977’s An Insatiable High. Clicking on songs at random on Spotify has also elicited multiple grins, so maybe there’s no wrong way to eat this Reese’s. If you’re a Brian David Gilbert fan (and if not, go become one), his collab with Louie Zong “Breezy Slide” feels, in fashion, temperment, and instrumentation, like a Takanaka homage.

 

 

Paul Thompson (pdbass)

I want to shout out a Pittsburgh-area musican with a fantastic YouTube channel. pdbass creates videos which highlight bass lines in classic rock, yacht rock, funk, R&B, and hiphop songs. The channel also has recorded performances by the musician and various lessons in bass playing that are well above my skill level.

Consider his video on A Tribe Called Quest’s masterpiece, The Low End Theory. Thompson goes track-by-track, describing the bass lines (and several tracks use multiple samples), the original songs from which they appear, and then he performs the bass line. I’ve watched this video several times, and he has dozens of additional breakdowns like this on the YouTube channel. Highly recommended for all music lovers.

 

 

Rail trails

A friend recently took me fishing on the banks of the Allegheny River. Pittsburgh, if you are not familiar, is similar to older East Coast US cities in having a baffling layout, here built around a series of hills, ravines, and giant rivers. So I knew that the Ohio River was very close to my house from the zillion times that I’ve driven next to it, but I didn’t realize that a quick trip down Brighton Road to Woods Run would so quickly dump out at a rail trail right on the Allegheny River.

So I’m taking a minute to shout out the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, thirty-some miles of offroad trails lining the Pittsburgh region. In a city so inhospitable to bicycles and joggers (blame it on geography, driver aggression, or some combination of the two), it is refreshing to have a public amenity that is quiet, scenic, and devoid of people driving extended cab pickups with one hand on their cell phone, the second on a vape pen, and ear buds in both ears.

We fished at the put-in dock just behind the old prison, and it was a beautiful location. I hope to explore more of the trails of Pittsburgh throughout the fall.

 

 

Moving Pictures

This is ultimately a movie website, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t list at least one.

 

The bounty hunts rides into town with the two escaped lovers in tow

Dead for a Dollar

2022, In theaters September 30

We have a Walter Hill retrospective scheduled for release the week before this Western arrives in theaters. In that we’ll cover Hill’s huge influence on American action cinema.

For now, I’ll just say: Willem Dafoe (literally everything), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained; Inglourious Basterds), Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; House of Cards), and Hamish Linklater (Midnight Mass) star in a Western tale of revenge that seems to be a direct homage to the great Lee Marvin film The Professionals (1966). This the most anticipated Walter Hill film since at least Last Man Standing (1996). And with the filmmaker at 80 years old, this may be one of his last films. I plan to catch it in a theater if I can, and hope you do too.

 

Grizzly II: The Revenge

FIlmed in 1983 but not released until 2020, streaming

Don’t take this as a stamp of approval from our staff. But I would be remiss if I headed into spooky season 2022 without mentioning this very bizare, very bad, very direct-to-video horror movie. The Ringer has a more thorough write-up of the film, so I’ll leave those details to the professionals. What you get is a horror movie starring Louise Fletcher and John Rhys-Davies, with very early-career cameos by Laura Dern, George Clooney, and Charlie Sheen.

Watch the trailer on Amazon. The movie is indeciperable and bad and has a sequence at a Nazareth concert despite the band not appearing in the film. If you enjoy baffling failures on the big screen, you’d be hard-pressed to find one this bad with such famous people in it.

 

See you in October.