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"ranney"s Seven is Heaven Cosmic Choices

Each month, as determined by the span of days for each sign of the zodiac, this site will display recommended films, written works, and albums:
Cancer choices - 2018
Movies
Best in Show - Directed by Christopher Guest

Okay. See, this fool is just stupid. You have got to just sit down and let this movie happen to you. Don’t get caught up in what movies are supposed to do. That’s Hollywood’s job. This mock-umentary of the dog show culture will hurt your ribs. Mighty Joe Young's grocery list: just bananas!

Crooklyn - Directed by Spike Lee

A'ight, Spike. Leave Clint Eastwood and Tyler Perry alone, and get back to this. What a film! Every time I watch a Spike Lee film, I am beside myself from how he has cinematically told black life so well that every one else falls way behind. Spike has been wrong about a number of things in public, but, on film, he knows his peeps.

Journey to the End of Night - Directed by Eric Eason

Tight script, brilliant cast, excellent film. This top notch cinematic thriller about the domino effect of a drug deal gone bad is engrossing and merciless in it's projection of a Brazillian community left behind. Purely Shakesperean.

Pinero - Directed by Leon Ichaso

Benjamin Bratt is in remarkable form in this biopic about the underground poet-playwright Miguel Pinero. We are seduced into the uncompromising tale of the performance con-artist who founded the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Completely hypnotic. During the eulogy, there is a host of cameos by the pivotal poets of Pinero’s time, including one of my heroes, Amiri Baraka.

Rain Man - Directed by Barry Levinson

In maybe one of the best film performances ever, Dustin Hoffman is giving us flawless acting in this movie. And Tom Cruise is actually acting! Barry Levinson guides us through a roller-coaster of emotions as we watch a car salesman kidnap his brother, who is an autistic savant who recently inherited millions of dollars from their father. What any truly serious actor reaches for: details, details, details...

The Truman Show - Directed by Peter Weir

I don't know if he beat him or drugged him, but somehow Peter Weir got Jim Carey under control in this prophetic film about a man's discovery that his life has been and is the most popular television show in America. Nice to see Carey away from his typical, "I'm Acting: Please, Give Me An Oscar."

What's New Pussycat? - Directed by Clive Donner

Peter Sellers AND Peter O’Toole? AND Woody Allen? Wait - Burt Bacharach soundtrack, too? Come Onnnnnnnnnnnn, dawg! O’Toole is hilarious and infectious as a womanizer seeking help. The help comes from a psychotherapist played by Sellers. Non-stop fun. Great movie for reclusive times. Put a straight-jacket on a basket of fruit: CRAZY BANANAS!

 
Written Works
Exile and the Kingdom - by Albert Camus

Six separate stories of spiritual searching. Intense and yet consistently accessible, Camus presents man vs. world in a classic collective that could be called his greatest triumph. Open up and see.

Failed States - by Noam Chomsky

Sure, he’s on the left. But, more importantly, he is just right. Many will argue over the dotting of the "i"s and the crossing of the "t"s, but at the end of the sentence, Chomsky’s message about America’s standing and impetus regarding the currrent list of rogue states is the gospel. Don’t be afraid. Be aware.

The Freelance Pallbearers - by Ishmael Reed

I don't even know where to start, chil'ren. How do you explain this book? If  you are looking for surprises in content, style, concept, genre, and philosophy, start here. Pure neo-voodooism. OMG! Crucial.

Know What I Mean? : Reflections on Hip-Hop - by Michael Eric Dyson

Tha's Wassup, Son. As always, The Chosen One is the consummate liasion between hip-hop and "middle-America." Dyson breaks it down, when it comes to the perceptions of rap music (deserved and not deserved). Like with any central pop music  of its day, understanding hip-hop gives insight to a better understanding of this country. Get with Dyson, and start understanding.

Napalm and Silly Putty - by George Carlin

An inspiration for one of my one man shows (Cufflinks and JollyRanchers for Dummies), this collection of observations, rants, and pondering by one of the most prolific American stand-up comedians of all time is the best book to keep in waiting rooms, airports, etc. Absolutely mind-blowing fun! Air Marshall Carlin. A rare genius. "Rat shit, bat shit, dirty old twat. 69 assholes tied in a knot. Hooray - Lizard shit!" The Pope is pulling Laffy-Taffy: HOLY BANANAS!

Ofrika's Song - by Ize Ofrika

Wow. I just got really emotional after I typed this title. My brother. The late, great Ize Ofrika. The brilliance. The poetry. The passion. The revolution. The real. The cool dude and infinite home slice I referred to as The Ofrikan. March 3, 1977 - May 10, 2004. Please, enjoy. Meditating Monkey. Bananas x Infinity...

The Story of B - by Daniel Quinn

One of my Fave 5 writers hits us with another puzzling philosophical tale. A priest on the lookout for the Anti-Christ investigates a very popular teacher, B. Many myths of old and new get dispelled as we learn about these characters, their world, our world, and ourselves. Intriguing storytelling in the Greek philosophical tradition.

 
Audio
The Battle of Los Angeles - Rage Against the Machine

"This mic device - I spit nonfiction. Who got the power? This be my question? The mass of the few in this torn nation? The priest, the book, or the congregation..." Ahhhhhhhhhhhh shit, Nukka! I can see Ize and me in the car, thumpin’ our heads and slingin’ our fists on our way to Orlando to hand out flyers for my one man show, Pardon Me: I Promise to do My Best. Postively, never-ending BA-NA-NAS!

Greatest Slow Jams - Whispers

If you grew up in the 70s or the 80s, like I did, you know that slow jams were on an entirely different level. Artists like Freddie Jackson, Keith Sweat, Greg Abbot, and the incomparable Luther Vandross pushed this particular genre to new heights. Consistently in the everchanging mix with the best of the best was the Whispers. Add this to your playlists, and be ready to show that you are the coolest among the coolest friends.

Jelly's Last Jam - music (Jelly Roll Morton) show (George C. Wolfe)

Every time I see an overblown, over-hyped broadway musical, I retreat back to this work. Unparalleled in its uncompromising commitment to tell a story through music. Just first-rate theatrical understanding and entertainment. Gutsy and Rare. No leaning on dazzling gimmicks; no contrived show-stoppers to appease the star; no black people dressed up in colorful costmes to look cultural as they tell a silly story about animals. This is how it is done, folks. No diversions. You can take this heart-wrenching story, laid down to the compositions by the very subject - one of the pioneers of jazz - or you can go escape in typical, "doo-wah" musical theater land. Me? I like my coffee strong.

The Rainbow Children - Prince

The ever-evolving, heir apparent to the Godfather takes the funk train to gospel. Only for truly grown folk who love shape-shifting, funky, soulful, gospel music. I don't care what your beliefs are. If you want truth in music, this collection is the word. You can BELIEVE THAT!

Requiem - Branford Marsalis

Coltrane would be proud. Who wouldn't? Just before the new millennnium, the elder Marsalis reminds us that the tradition of groundbreaking jazz is in sure hands. The ever restless mind of Branford meets the steady genius of his musicianship. Stellar and stimulating work.

Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith

Forget about the dude on American Idol and just go back to this! Classic, car-cruising, crackling, blues rock. This is one of the best rock-n-roll bands of any time in the zone. On just one album: the party house, "Walk This Way," the dizzying "Sweet Emotion," and the guitar sawing "Big Ten Inch Record." This recording brings the entire phrase back in my vocabulary, "Rock-N-ROLL, chil’renz."

The Zodiac Suite - Mary Lou Williams

How SWEET it is! The first lady of 88s puts together a collection of jazz masterpieces, each a dedication to another jazz icon. With the skill of the best classical musician, and, yet, the sensibilities of the jazz elite, Williams is always about what works to convey the message of each piece. Truly gifted. What other artist would have had insight to saluting the cream of bee-bopdum in one sign: Libra (Powell, Gillespie, Tatum, and Monk).

 


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