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Magic Tag

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Nighttime and an electrical storm in the Mexican heat flashes, high on acid, the lightning breaking out – there! – there! – and the electricity flows through him and out of him, a second skin, a suit of electricity, and if the time was ever now it is – Now! – and he hurls his hand toward the sky to make the lightning break out where he points – Now! – we’ve got to close it, the gap between the flash and the eye, and make it, the reentry into Now … as Superheroes … open … until he falls to the beach and Mountain Girl finds him holding his throat and choking as if he is gagging on sand …

Beyond acid. They have made the trip now, closed the circle, all of them, and they either emerge as superheroes, closing the door behind them, and soaring through the hole in the sapling sky, or just lollygag in the loop – the loop of the lag – Almost clear! Presque vu! – many good heads have seen it – Paul telling the early Christians: hooking down wine for the Holy Spirit – sooner or later the Blood has got to flood into you for good – Zoroaster telling his followers: you can’t keep taking haoma water to see the flames of Vohu Mano – you’ve got to become the flames, man – And Dr. Strange and Sub Mariner and the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four and the Human Torch prank about on the Rat walls of la casa grande like stroboscopic sledgehammer Cassady’s fons et origo ::::: and it is either make this thing permanent inside of you or forever just climb draggled up into the conning tower every time for one short glimpse of the horizon:::::

–from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

There is a new Harry Potter movie out this week, which millions of fans are extremely excited about, even though they’ve all read the books and know exactly what’s going to happen. Also, they don’t seem to mind that it’s based on the one that was mostly flashbacks, meaning there’s less Harry than in the other movies – although we do get to see young Dumbledore, who, rumor has it, looks exactly like Chris Pine.

I’ve read all the books, and one thing I enjoyed about them was the way J.K. Rowling wove the world of magic so cleverly in with our own. Somehow, the wizardry practiced and taught at Hogwarts seems to make logical sense – it propels the story while at the same time serving as a sharp satire of academia, and as an added plus it steers unsuspecting young readers toward godless occult practices. Wait, wasn’t that the idea?

Regardless, in the Harry Potter films, such a rich and layered portrayal of the existence of magic is unusual for cinema – mainly because the role magic usually plays in movies is, of course, the handy plot device. With that in mind, here’s another look at five movies that, if it weren’t for magic, would have ended after 12 minutes. (And in some cases, we would have been better off.)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Half-Blood_Prince_2I’ll admit, first and foremost, that I’ve been more a fan of the Harry Potter films than I have the books. While I admit the books are enjoyable (I’ve read the first four), I find them rather repetitive and not quite as fleshed out in some ways as I think they could be–which is saying something, considering the epic lengths at which they mark off.

I’ve enjoyed the films more, I guess, because I can appreciate the fact that while they are more condensed versions of the books (every film has to have some type of limit before audience members begin laying across other seats in search of a brief respite in dreamland), they are still the most faithful cinematic adaptations of the material that will ever exist, and it’s just a fun experience to watch Daniel Radcliffe (My Boy Jack, December Boys) and the other young actors in the cast bring J.K. Rowling’s characters to full-fledged life. It’s also beginning to make me feel a little old, in a bittersweet way, to watch these kids grow up before my eyes as the series has progressed. Like all of you legitimate diehard Potter fans, I’ve come to feel an affinity for this cast, and in some ways feel like a proud parent, watching these talented young actors mature so gracefully.

Bruce Springsteen - Working On a DreamBona fides: I’m a Jersey boy, and a fan. I’ve got more than 50 Springsteen concerts under my belt. I’ve even met him once or twice, and no, I never call him The Boss. Now on with the show.

Someone on Twitter (follow us @popdose) recently wrote that Bruce Springsteen’s Oscar snub by the Motion Picture Academy was his punishment for “Outlaw Pete.” Maybe. I do know that the failure of the Academy to include Springsteen’s title song from The Wrestler in the Best Song category is one of the most egregious oversights I’ve ever seen in my years of following the Oscars. Are the Academy voters allowed to write in their choices?

I do understand the sentiment about “Outlaw Pete,” though. The song’s placement as the leadoff track on Working on a Dream (Columbia) is one of he most curious decisions in rock history. First of all, the thing is more than eight minutes long. Second, the story doesn’t make much sense. I suppose, based on his acknowledged respect for the iconic western films of John Ford, Springsteen was trying to create a widescreen western epic of his own. What he ended up with is more akin to the spaghetti variety.

I tell you this as someone who has listened to the track over and over in an attempt to understand its significance. I’ve done this because the balance of the album contains some of the best work that Springsteen has done in years. The E Street Band is in great form, despite the very noticeable lack of input from Clarence Clemons (wouldn’t a sax solo have been preferable to the whistling verse on the title track?), and producer Brendan O’Brien, working with Springsteen for the fourth time, has tamed most of his impulses toward the murky sound that nearly destroyed Magic for me.

It was recently reported (by Fox News, of all places) that Clear Channel radio stations had been instructed not to play tracks from Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Magic. It’s been impossible to ignore all the praise the album has received; it even picked up a solid review from Pitchfork Media, which is pretty unusual for an artist that you, your parents, and your children (if you’re old enough to have them) have all heard of. I’d imagine someone around here even had nice things to say about it.

There aren’t too many artists with broader appeal to Americans than Bruce Springsteen. The steel-town nostalgia, the solid rock guitar riffs, the voice that at times seems drenched in whiskey, other times coated with coal dust, all of these add up to one of the most easily marketable stars in music history. And yet Bruce has had no trouble remaining wedded to his populist sentiment and progressive politics. Bruce is the Warren Buffet of the rock and roll world –- someone who hit it big, but truly never changed, inside or out.

Why on earth would any radio station not want to play Bruce Springsteen’s music? It’s hard to imagine that “Born in the USA,” which is ostensibly an anti-war song, would have received reduced airplay following the attacks of September 11th. It tapped into our reflexive need to chant “U-S-A” and provided us with the necessary familiarity and comfort we needed at the time. If there was a time to mute its message, it would have been during the Walter Reed scandals earlier this year, but it seems doubtful that anyone would have made the connection.