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November 2015
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January 2016

what i watched last year

A summary, sorted by my ratings. I tend to save the 10/10 ratings for older classics, so a more recent film that gets 9/10 is very good indeed. Movies that are just shy of greatness will get 8/10. I waste more time than is necessary trying to distinguish 7/10 from 6/10 … both ratings signify slightly better-than-average movies, where if I like them I’ll pop for a 7 and if I don’t, I’ll lay out a 6. I save 5/10 for movies I don’t like, and anything lower than 5 for crud. This explanation comes after the fact … I don’t really think it through when I give the ratings. They skew high because I try very hard to avoid movies I won’t like … if I saw every movie ever made, my average might be 5/10, but I skip the ones that would bring the average down. Thus, the average for the 136 movies I rated in 2015 is 7.1 out of 10 (last year: 127 movies, 7.4).

Anything I give at least a 9 rating is something I recommend ... might sound obvious, but if someone is actually looking to me for suggestions, that limits the list to 12. So I’ve included links to my comments on those movies.

10:

The Battle of Algiers

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Third Man

The Wizard of Oz

Yojimbo

 

9:

Boyhood

Carlos

Daisies

The Interrupters

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

My Neighbor Totoro

Out of the Past

 

8:

An Autumn Afternoon

The Babadook

The Big Parade

Bob le Flambeur

The Cameraman

Casualties of War

Design for Living

The Face of Another

How to Survive a Plague

Ida

Ikiru

Ivan’s Childhood

Le jour se lève

Love & Mercy

Midnight in Paris

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Pandora’s Box

Pride & Prejudice

Purple Noon

The Raid 2

Reservoir Dogs

The River

Shadow of a Doubt

Shake! Otis at Monterey

The Shop Around the Corner

Short Term 12

Snowpiercer

Spotlight

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Vagabond

We Are the Best!

Zatoichi

 

7:

À Nous la Liberté

Ace in the Hole

American Psycho

Ant-Man

Atonement

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Ballast

Battle Royale

Beyond the Lights

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

The Bourne Supremacy

Burden of Dreams

Chef

Claire’s Knee

Crimson Peak

Cronos

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Easy Money

Finding Vivian Maier

Fish Tank

Force Majeure

Get Carter

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Gone Girl

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

I Saw the Devil

Ichi the Killer

The Imitation Game

In Bruges

Inherent Vice

The Last Samurai

Maleficent

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Mean Girls

Memories of Murder

My Summer of Love

News from Home

Night Will Fall

Nightcrawler

Once Upon a Time in the West

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Places in the Heart

Ratcatcher

Salesman

San Andreas

Spectre

Still Alice

The Suspect

The Theory of Everything

Virunga

Wendy and Lucy

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Wolf of Wall Street

 

6:

Anna Karenina

Arlington Road

August: Osage County

Beverly Hills Cop

Bug

Closer

Doctor X

8 1/2

Fear

Fellini’s Casanova

Fitzcarraldo

The Giver

I Shot Jesse James

Jack Reacher

The Love Goddesses

Love in the Afternoon

The Man Who Could Work Miracles

Monkey Business

A Most Wanted Man

Mountains of the Moon

Oculus

Out of Africa

The Sandlot

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Two Days, One Night

We Own the Night

Wild at Heart

World War Z

Wuthering Heights

 

5:

Death Proof

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Neal Cassady

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Guys and Dolls

7 Women

The Water Diviner

 

4:

Blazing Saddles

Killing Them Softly


tv 2015: m's through r's

Man in the High Castle. We’re about halfway through Season One (not sure if there will be more). They do a good job of world building, and there are some interesting performances from the supporting cast. But it’s rather slow, the leads don’t have a lot of charisma, and while High Castle is arguably Philip K. Dick’s most honored novel, it’s not my favorite (I like the drug books), so I’m respecting the series without loving it. Available on Amazon Prime.

Master of None. Only watched three so far, which is too soon to evaluate, but I can see why it’s getting good reviews. On Netflix.

Masters of Sex. A favorite, but I guess it’s lost its charm, because the season ended some time ago and we still have a few episodes to watch. Showtime Syndrome.

Mozart in the Jungle. I very much liked Season One, and just watched the first episode of Season Two. Looks to be more of the same, with the addition of Gretchen “It Girl” Mol. I like all of the actors on this one. Amazon Prime.

Mr. Robot. Intriguing, with a great performance in the lead by Rami Malek. I got through about half of the episodes, and then stalled, but I intend to finish the season.

Orange Is the New Black. Some say last season was a bit of a comedown, but I can’t tell the difference between the seasons, except I’m glad Jason Biggs is gone. Netflix.

Orphan Black. I’ve mostly lost interest in the plot, but Tatiana Maslany is so good, I’ll keep watching.

Outlander. One of the surprises of the year, at least for me. A bodice-ripping historical romance novel is turned into a TV series under the watchful eye of Ronald D. Moore. I put great faith in Moore ... otherwise I would have missed this series. It’s very good, and, as many have pointed out, it sees the bodies of men and women in a different way than we’re used to (i.e. much less male gaze).

Penny Dreadful. Still going strong through two seasons ... I gave the series so far an A-. Eva Green is terrific.

Rectify. I guess this is still My Favorite Show No One Else Watches. Moves at a snail’s pace, but is excruciatingly honest, and Aden Young in the lead is My Favorite Actor No One Else Watches.

The Returned. I often get lost in plots ... I don’t know what’s going on half the time. After two seasons of The Returned, I’m ready to say in this case, it’s not my fault. Atmospheric, but obstinately obscure.


what i watched last week

I’ve barely watched any movies the last few weeks, as I try to catch up with TV series. Finally got to one, though:

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009). I wondered why anyone thought Abel Ferrara’s original needed a remake, but Herzog assures us his film has nothing to do with the earlier one, other than featuring a drug-addicted policeman. Nicolas Cage has the Harvey Keitel title role, and it’s instructive to compare how the two actors approach mania. Actually, Keitel is more liable to tilt towards scene chewing than he is to utter chaos. That’s Cage’s area. Who would have thought, when Cage ate a live cockroach in the weird Vampire’s Kiss, that we were getting a preview of the rest of Cage’s career. OK, not every Cage role is bonkers, but he certainly seems to have an affinity for them. It would seem that pairing him with Werner Herzog would guarantee a true oddity, and I suppose this is odd, but it’s not surprising in its oddness. I mean, Cage’s Lieutenant does some outrageous things, and you can’t necessarily predict them, but you can predict that those things will happen, whatever they turn out to be. The movie is never boring ... not with a hero taking vicodin and oxy and crack and heroin, hallucinating iguanas, getting in deep with bookies and Xzibit as a drug kingpin, and generally freaking out as only Nicolas Cage can. Some say this is a comedy. Some interesting people turn up in the cast, but they barely matter next to Cage. #547 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century. 7/10, although your tolerance for Cage on crack might lead you to translate “7” as “6” or “8”.


tv 2015: j's thru l's

Jane the Virgin. I liked Season One quite a bit, but I worried it would be hard to juggle everything for another season. I shouldn’t have worried. Jane is currently at its half-season break, and shows no sign of fatigue. You have to get with the program or the entire thing will fail you ... it’s too odd to be otherwise. But the balance of telenovela silliness, family drama, humor, Latino presence, and innovative technique still works. I have no idea why ... the thing should suck. In a cast that manages to handle whatever oddball things are thrown their way, special props to Gina Rodriguez for carrying the show without succumbing to saccharine, Jaime Cavil as her telenovela star/father, and Anthony Mendez as The Narrator.

Jessica Jones. We’re about halfway through this one, which streams on Netflix. It is one of the darkest entities to hold the Marvel tag. Jones is more private detective than superhero, with her drinking and her miserable attitude. She’s got a better reason than most of us for that attitude: she’s suffering from PTSD. I’m sure the cast is fine, but I haven’t noticed, because Krysten Ritter in the title role dominates, and she’s wonderful. David Tennant plays the Big Bad, but he has barely showed up in the episodes we’ve seen. I’m looking forward to it.

The Knick. Season Two ended, not with a cliff-hanger, but with the apparent end of the series. Steven Soderbergh directs every episode, and whether the show continues or not is probably entirely up to him. Once again, an excellent cast, with Clive Owen the most well-known. Matt Zoller Seitz in particular has done some great writing on how Soderbergh makes The Knick different from other series (here’s one example), and since the word “cinematic” popped up somewhere along the way, I find myself watching The Knick differently than I do other series. You could do worse than just concentrate on the camera placement ... “cinematic” indeed. I didn’t quite understand the concept at first, but The Knick forces it on you in a subtle way ... if you don’t look for it, you miss it, and you’re left with a very good hospital drama set in the early 1900s.

The Leftovers. I wrote at length about this show here.

Longmire. The kind of show that gets lost in the shuffle. It is very good at what it does (modern-day Western/procedural), it has interesting characters and an intriguing setting, it has Katee Sackhoff. It moved to Netflix this season, and it is as good as ever, but it has never been more than good, and since it’s no longer on the DVR, it’s easy to forget it’s out there. Which means we’ve only watched about half of the season’s episodes. Nothing wrong with Longmire at all, it’s just buried under Peak TV.


hendu

Dave Henderson died.

Seems like everyone liked Hendu. He was only a Giant for a few weeks, but we liked him, even when, as a member of the Oakland A's, he helped beat the Giants in the 1989 World Series. He played six seasons for the A's, back when I liked them and went to lots of their games. He was irrepressible, always with a smile, always seemed to love playing the game. I was very sorry to hear he had died.

And then I looked at the major websites to see what they had to say about Hendu. I'm sure this will be fixed ... may already be fixed ... but I looked at the MLB website, and there was nothing about Henderson. I looked at the ESPN MLB website, and there was nothing about Henderson. OK, he wasn't a Hall of Famer, but he was apparently universally beloved, he was an All-Star, he played in four post-seasons, hitting seven homers in 36 games, including one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. I am puzzled why it is taking so long for those big websites to acknowledge the sad news.

Here he is in the first World Series game I ever attended, beating up on the Giants:

 


music friday: my 2015

It’s an hour until Xmas begins, so I’ll be quick. Here are ten songs that I listened to a lot in 2015, according to Last.fm, which tracks my Spotify listens. They’re in reverse order of times played, and I’ve skipped some (only one track per artist is the main disruptive “rule”). So the song at the bottom of the list is the one I played the most during the year. As I said when I posted something similar on Facebook about my listening habits, if it wasn’t for Sleater-Kinney, I’d be 1000 years old. Happy holidays to everyone.


xmas 2015

Some think Homeland has returned to form this year, and I’ll agree, at least to the extent that it no longer rises above its form. The show is about Carrie Mathison, and about Claire Danes portrayal of Carrie. Danes never falters, and the first season, where Carrie’s bipolar disorder turned her into an obsessive investigator who is “crazy” but also “right”, was stunning. The plot became unhinged in Season Two, and I don’t believe it has ever recovered, although for some reason I’m still watching ... probably because of Danes. (One way Homeland is true to form is that, like almost every Showtime series, it goes on for too many season.)

Season Five, which just ended, began with Carrie no longer working for the CIA. Of course, she inevitably gets involved in the same old shit. A turning point comes early in the season, when Carrie goes off her bipolar medication so that she can do a better job of figuring things out. This call-back to Season One mostly just reminded me of how good Homeland used to be. No one really likes Crazy Carrie any more. Whatever ... this subplot seems to just disappear. We never see her go back on her meds, although I guess she does because Crazy Carrie is mostly subdued.

I have been on bipolar meds for more than ten years. What was I like in the 50+ years before I went on meds? My sister once told me she thought I hated her when we were kids (nothing could be further from the truth, but she must have gotten that feeling from somewhere). There’s an acquaintance from high school ... we reconnected some years ago. She told me she always thought I was an asshole when we were teenagers. One time, I asked a good friend from those days (and today) to support me on this ... he said “you were an asshole”. And he’s my friend.

I don’t know where my sins fit on the continuum of good to bad. I know I’ve never killed anyone ... I know the person I most often hurt is myself ... I know I could have been a better husband and a better father. But lots of people could say these things. They are nothing to be proud of, but I suspect they are fairly ordinary. I’ve done a couple of things that were worse than these ... maybe we all have something like that we keep hidden.

As Xmas rolls around, I recognize how much meds have improved my life. For so long, I detested Xmas. Now, I get through it, and I hope I’m not too much of a burden on others.

But tonight, I find myself wondering what might happen if I did a Carrie Mathison. What if I went off my meds on a temporary basis? She had an explicit purpose for her actions ... what would be mine? I wouldn’t see things differently ... one of the odd things about my meds is that they haven’t changed what I think, only how I act on those thoughts. If I went off meds, that awful anxiety would return, as would the depression. But I wouldn’t be able to save the world from terrorists the way Carrie does. I’d just go back to feeling shitty.

So why would I even stop to wonder what it would be like?

Because my meds take away the one thing I have always been better at than anything else: my verbal meanness. I don’t say what I think they way I used to do, and a part of me thinks it would be liberating to return to the days of cutting barbs for a day or two.

But it would last a lot longer than a day or two, if not directly for me, than for my relationships with others. It took my high-school friend more than 40 years to get over whatever it was I did back in high school. Same with my sister.

So I dutifully take my meds, and wish people happy holidays. I update folks on our dog, Spot, who as you can see is doing as good as ever:

spot

I post a picture like this to cheer myself up:

félix in shades

And I revisit a good moment from 2015:

Got this feeling when I heard your name the other day
Couldn't say it, couldn't make it go away
It's a hard place, can't be friends, we can't be enemies
It's just too much, feel the weight crushing down on my face

The hardest part is things already said
Getting better, worse, I can not tell
Why do good things never wanna stay?
Some things you lose, some things you give away

Broken pieces, try to make it good again
Is it worth it, will it make me sick today?
It's a dumb song, but I'll write it anyway
It's an old mistake, but we always make it, why do we?

The hardest part is things already said
Getting better, worse, I can not tell
Why do good things never wanna stay?
Some things you lose, some things you give away

This time, it'll be alright
This time, it'll be okay
This time, it'll be alright
This time, it'll be okay

The hardest part is things already said
Getting better, worse, I can not tell
Why do good things never wanna stay?
Some things you lose, some things you give away
Some things you lose, some things you give away


doug henwood, my turn: hillary clinton targets the presidency

I’ll start with the cover. There’s no way not to start with the cover ... Henwood even added “An Author’s Note About This Book’s Cover” to the book’s forward. (The turnaround time for My Turn was extremely fast. Henwood states at one point that he was finishing the writing in October, and it was released in December.) In his author’s note, he says “As this book was entering production, we circulated the cover to get people talking about it. We never imagined how successful that strategy would be.” His discussion of the subsequent criticism touches on the larger issues he addresses in the book as a whole, and is deserving of some examination here.

Some people found the cover gross or disgusting ... more importantly, “Tweets and think-pieces about the cover quickly became a subgenre of a larger argument that tries to portray tough criticism of Hillary as sexist – inevitably so, given its incorporation into a dominant patriarchal discourse, regardless of the author’s intent.” That larger argument, which wants to discredit any criticism of Hillary Clinton, is what Henwood is up against when he writes this book. The criticism must be made, but it is attacked just as if he were coming from a right-wing perspective. He writes:

[I]f you’re looking for a more peaceful, more egalitarian society you’d have to overlook a lot about Hillary’s history to develop any enthusiasm for her. The side of feminism I’ve studied and admired for decades has been about moving towards that ideal, and not merely placing women into high places while leaving the overall hierarchy of power largely unchanged. It’s distressing to see feminism pressed into service to promote the career of a thoroughly orthodox politician – and the charge of sexism used to deflect critiques of her.

The seven chapters tell Clinton’s story “From Park Ridge to Little Rock” onwards “Toward November 2016”, with stops at “First Lady”, “Senator”, her first try at the presidency, “Diplomat”, and philanthropy. Almost a third of the book consists of footnotes. He mentions that the original article on which the book is based, which ran 6000 words, elicited a 9000-word refutation from just one person. Thus assuming that his book will be closely scrutinized, “I’ve provided plenty of footnotes ... to work with.”

If I had to pick a central point to Henwood’s argument, it is that concrete actions are worth far more than symbolic gestures. He returns again and again to Bill Clinton’s welfare reform, which Hillary strongly supported:

Later, as senator, she supported George W. Bush’s proposal to expand the work requirement for recipients of the surviving welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – one of the few Democrats to do so. Advocates for the poor were shocked ...

A 2014 analysis ... found the following about ... [TANF]: fewer families were drawing benefits despite increased need; the value of those benefits have eroded to the point where beneficiaries can’t meet their basic needs; it does far less to reduce poverty than its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which welfare reform abolished; and almost all of the early employment gains for single mothers have been reversed.

The symbolic importance of a woman president can’t be denied. But if that woman’s actions (not her symbolic presence) result in declines for women, the symbol is unimportant.

This matters because so much of the pro-Hillary stance is that as a woman, she is inherently feminist, and her actions are inherently good for women. This is only true on the symbolic level.

There are other objections to Hillary Clinton that Henwood analyzes in detail. On more than one occasion, he quotes her statement from an October Democratic debate: “I represented Wall Street, as a senator from New York.” She seems unashamed of that representation, and it can be assumed that if she becomes president, she will remain loyal to the rich institutions that have donated so much to her campaign. She is also quite hawkish. Henwood notes of her review of a book by Henry Kissinger,

[S]he praised his “breadth and acuity” and described him as “a friend,” on whose “counsel” she relied while Secretary of State. Her appreciation of her predecessor seems apt. There’s something reminiscent of Kissinger about Hillary – the ruthlessness, the admiration of toughness and force, the penchant for deception and secrecy, the view of diplomacy as war continued by other means.

(Keep in mind, she’s talking about a war criminal, here.)

Daniel Davies does a better job than I can of demonstrating why My Turn is an important book:

My main impression on reading the book is that this is something that all Hillary supporters ought to be buying – it sets out all of the credible criticisms, without mixing them with a load of right wing dreck. One of the strongest points Doug makes is that a detailed look at her history and actions is much more relevant than any amount of wonky analysis of her policies, because the history tells you that you can’t expect the policy promises to turn out. ...

Hillary’s time on the board of Wal-Mart ... gets pretty detailed scrutiny, as do various accounts of how things went so terribly wrong with healthcare reform under the Bill administration. And there is chapter and verse (backed up with a somewhat hair-raising selection of quotes at the back) on support for wars of all sizes and the elimination of welfare payments.

So these are the arguments that supporters need to know about; they’re largely credible criticisms of Hillary as being a selfish, arrogant politician with consistently poor judgement on important questions. These are the points which supporters need to deal with. But I get the strong feeling that most of them are not going to realise that they need to buy this book.

And I suppose I should post a picture of the cover. The artist is Sarah Sole:

my turn

[Obligatory disclaimer: I’ve known Doug for 20+ years.]


childhood's end

When I was a kid, around the ages of 10-16, I read quite a bit of science-fiction. I wasn’t as big a fan as many people are. Philip K. Dick was far and away my favorite, but I feel like I came to him late, in the early 70s. Mostly in the 60s I read the same hippie material as everyone else, most notably Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. But another of my favorites was Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. While the book is known for its philosophical bent, the thing that really made an impression on me was the ships of the Overlords, most specifically, their size. Clarke referred to them as “huge and silent shadows” of “overwhelming majesty”. My imagination, fueled by Clarke, got the best of me. In my mind, the Overlords’ ship were so immense they covered the sky. In fact, my imagination was too puny to fully comprehend what Clarke had written ... I simply couldn’t imagine what such ships would look like if they appeared in my own sky.

I didn’t return to the book, at least not until recently, and I forgot most of the plot. But I never forgot the image of those enormous ships. And I hoped that some day Childhood’s End would be made into a movie, so I could see the ships visualized.

Clarke published Childhood’s End in 1953, the year I was born. There were several attempts over the years to bring it to the screen; all of them failed. In a forward to a 2000 edition of the novel, Clarke (writing when the book still hadn’t been filmed) noted that the times had caught up with his book, so much so that if a movie of Childhood’s End was ever produced, people would think it ripped off Independence Day, the 1996 film that featured what Clarke accurately described as “a very impressive version of the opening” of the book.

And it is true ... when Independence Day came out, I remember thinking “this is what I wanted to see of Childhood’s End”. Not the plot ... just the image of that enormous space ship. The quality here is pretty awful, but you get the idea:

Independence Day had a budget of $75 million (1996 dollars, I should add). It’s hard to find budget figures for Childhood’s End ... apparently it got more money than the usual SyFY product. So it may have been a creative decision rather than a budgetary one that gave us Overlord ships that were big but not overwhelming. This took some getting used to for someone like me, who has long hoped to see the ships as big as possible.

Giving the creators three parts and six hours (minus commercials) to tell the story should have allowed room for lots of the book, and I don’t think they missed much. The acting was ok, if nothing more, although it was fun seeing Charles Dance in his makeup (no matter how much demon-face they gave him, his eyes told you it was still him). Workmanlike, that’s what it was. The special effects were good enough, but not awe-inspiring. The story was good enough, but not awe-inspiring. The final section, which reveals the Overlords’ big plan, is OK, but here is where I think the series fell short. In the book, Clarke allows us to understand the evolution of humanity in such a way that it doesn’t seem like the end of people as much as a transformation. (That a book written during the Cold War posits a future of collective thought without making that future completely dystopian would seem to have been startling in its day.) I don’t know what the TV series wants to say at the end. We get the “end of people” aspect, but what happens to the children is largely a mystery, which I think made it seem more negative than Clarke might have intended.

I wanted Childhood’s End to be as awe-inspiring as I found those ships when I first read the book. I always preferred Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Star Wars because for all its excitement, Star Wars seemed prosaic next to the religious fervor of Close Encounters. The TV version of Childhood’s End had dollops of philosophy, a plot interesting enough to get us through three nights, and the great moment when we first see what an Overlord looks like. But it didn’t have awe. B+.


music friday: the rock and roll hall of fame

Here is what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says about eligibility for entrance:

“We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.”

Take the first part. Imagine a group that, on their AllMusic page, under “followed by”, has 21 artists listed, including everyone from Roxy Music and Madonna to David Bowie and Prince to Queen and Debbie Harry. That’s an influential group. Imagine also that one of the group’s songs all by itself was integral to “Rapper’s Delight”, “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel”, Blondie’s “Rapture”, and “Another One Bites the Dust”. That’s an influential group.

Take the second part. Imagine a group that recorded seven albums between 1977 and 1983. Three of those albums were Top Ten on the R&B charts, with one of them making #1. They also hit #1 on various singles charts seven times. Imagine a group whose AllMusic biography reads:

There can be little argument that [they were] disco's greatest band; and, working in a heavily producer-dominated field, they were most definitely a band. By the time [they] appeared in the late '70s, disco was already slipping into the excess that eventually caused its downfall. [They] bucked the trend by stripping disco's sound down to its basic elements; their funky, stylish grooves had an organic sense of interplay that was missing from many of their overproduced competitors. [Their] sound was anchored by the scratchy, James Brown-style rhythm guitar of [left blank] and the indelible, widely imitated (sometimes outright stolen) bass lines of [left blank]; as producers, they used keyboard and string embellishments economically, which kept the emphasis on rhythm. [Their] distinctive approach not only resulted in some of the finest dance singles of their time, but also helped create a template for urban funk, dance-pop, and even hip-hop in the post-disco era. Not coincidentally, [the main band members] wound up as two of the most successful producers of the '80s.

That’s an innovative, superior group of style and technique, featuring musical excellence.

You’ve probably guessed, despite my clumsy attempt at hiding their identity, that I am talking about Chic, with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. They were not one of the inductees to the Hall announced yesterday. In fact, no other artist has been nominated for induction without actually getting into the Hall more often than Chic.

So, who took their place this year?

Cheap Trick, who had one of the all-time great singles in “Surrender”, have toured more than just about any band. They have influenced other artists, and at one time they were among the most popular rock and roll acts in the world. I tend to be picky about who I think is good enough, but Cheap Trick does not embarrass the institution.

Chicago is a perfect example of the enormous difference between critical acclaim and general popularity that often arises. They won induction largely because 37 million people cast a vote for them. On the other hand, Acclaimed Music, which collates critical opinion, lists Chicago as the 950th greatest artist in pop music history. Your tolerance for Chicago’s induction probably correlates with how much you trust critics and how much you trust 37 million Internet voters.

Deep Purple are kinda like the Cheap Trick of metal. They have sold a gazillion albums and are considered among the premier acts in their genre, which has been underrepresented in the Hall. I’m not a big fan of theirs, but I understand why they are going in.

Steve Miller? I wrote about him a couple of months ago when the nominations were announced. “Mostly, I think Miller gets nominated because of that mid-70s run, so the question becomes, do ‘Take the Money and Run’, ‘Rock’n Me’, ‘The Joker’, ‘Fly Like an Eagle’, and ‘Jet Airliner’ constitute a Hall of Fame career?” Um, no. And I remind you that Steve Miller is going in, while Chic still stands outside.

Finally, N.W.A are in. Rap, like metal, is underrepresented, and N.W.A were among the most influential rap artists of all time. We can argue over their lyrics, but they had the sound, the style, the technique, and yes, they belong.

None of this really matters, though, as long as Chic are on the outside looking in.