Neil Peart: An Appreciation

“Against the run of the mill / Swimming against the stream.”

“We break the surface tension with our wild kinetic dreams…”

“So much style without substance / So much stuff without style…”

“It’s hard to recognize the real thing / It comes along once in a while.”

-from “Grand Designs” by Rush (1985)

We all fantasize about meeting our heroes some day, no matter what cautions conventional wisdom might offer to the contrary. For but one example, I used to have literal recurring dreams about meeting Neil Peart, renowned drummer and lyricist for the band Rush, though with his shocking death last week from brain cancer at the age of 67, those long-standing desires have now sadly crossed over into the realm of permanent fantasy. Neil didn’t do meet and greet sessions, either before or after shows. He tried for a little while at the beginning, but found it simply wasn’t his thing. When Rush’s breathtaking run ended on their own terms in 2015, the band was as or more popular than they’d been in decades, and forty years of continuity is a heck of a long time to deny your fans the access they crave. But Neil and his admiration society had an understanding. Despite acclimation far and wide as one of a handful of the best drummers in the history of rock and roll – for, at the end of the day, he was surely the most influential – Neil was a humble, mild-mannered, and famously private person. Adulation on any level made him uncomfortable, and adoring throngs arguably don’t come any more vocal or vociferous than Rush fans. Continue reading “Neil Peart: An Appreciation”

Movie review: “Knives Out” (2019)

“That’s some heavy duty conjecture…”

“It’s funny, [NAME REDACTED]. You skipped the funeral, but you’re early for the will reading.”

Movie review etiquette strongly advises I not reveal the killer whose identity lies at the heart of Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s delightful update for impatient, attention-addled contemporary audiences of the time-worn but still effective Agatha Christie “locked room” style of mystery. This is far easier said than done, since, in a fairly stunning twist that proves to be only the first of many the film will lob at us like a loaded ball machine ready for tennis practice, the culprit is actually identified around the halfway mark, yet the stately country manor house remains so conspicuously full of colorful, highly motivated suspects otherwise. Who among this snooty, sniping, self-interested rabble honestly couldn’t be a potential villain, and might they yet eventually still seize their moment, even with matters ostensibly settled? Continue reading “Movie review: “Knives Out” (2019)”