Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
This award is given to actors who leave series which seem perfectly fine to me at the time, and I think they must miss such a good gig. But within a season or two they (the actors) seem to me to have gotten out while the getting is good.
Granted, the situations are different--Lowe walked away of his own volition (as I understand it) while Benz's Dexter character was killed off by the showrunners. Still, this is my way of saying...this past season of Dexter was really, really, really, really, stupid.
Bags that age with you
Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, star of Get Smart...
Monday, December 26, 2011
And to think that Spring Break appearance was one reason why I've thought Mr. Mister was underrated*
Mr. Mister played Spring Break, and their record company sent them a package via FedEx, which was mistakenly delivered to the room of an MTV executive, who saw it on his bed and ripped it open, thinking it was for him. He found...well, something meant to keep the band awake and happy for several days.
Well, now we know how they were able to take those broken wings and learn to fly again...
*I still think that. Don't tell anybody.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I'm also not running it because I have a nostalgic feeling about Mr Magoo's "A Christmas Carol." It's one that I somehow missed growing up; I can only assume that's because it was always scheduled opposite A Charlie Brown Christmas or Little Drummer Boy (and 99% of anything Rankin/Bass ever made), which I do have nostalgic feelings for.
Why then, am I running it? I'm running it because I saw this today and I was genuinely impressed with the song, like, from a writer point of view.
Now that's an impressive lyric (take that, Sting!). It didn't surprise me to learn from a little searching that the songs were written by Jule Styne, who wrote the music for Gypsy, and Bob Merrill, who wrote music and lyrics for Carnival.
(They both wrote more than a few other things, too, I'm just saying the song has a pedigree.)
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Courtney Love is allegedly getting booted from her West Village townhouse for missing her rent and “ruining” the designer decor by giving it a paint job, reports the New York Post.
Love claims not to be broke–she responded to eviction rumors by telling the NY Post “I haven’t fallen behind on the rent—I have been paying month to month as agreed. My rent is current, but the owner is now asking for the remaining two months’ upfront.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I haven’t even seen what a virtual museum is, but right now Kilian fragrances, three Academy Awards, a big virtual family because we all get along, my Fabergé martini shaker and lots and lots of love –– and sex.
Friday, December 09, 2011
But if I did, it would be this: That show has given Alec "father of the year" Baldwin a fucking fourth act. From self-important Actor (you know he'd insist on the capital) to political bloviator to Saturday Night Live host to bloated sitcom star.
And in all of these, he's proven himself in the top five (at least) of those who prove an old adage that I made up: Actors...shouldn't...talk.
Most recent case in point: You may have heard that Baldwin behaved like a jerk on an airplane recently. I always judge the masters on how they treat the servants, which is why I still think Christian Bale is a fucking nutball for screaming at a DP. But as if that weren't enough:
In "apologizing" for this bad behavior, Baldwin said,
"I believe carriers and airports have used [9/11] as an excuse to make the air travel experience as inelegant as possible."
Leaving out that what kind of jerk invokes 9/11 to justify their ill-manners...inelegant?
They searched the blog URL; didn't stay long.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Counterintuitively, let's start with one of his last as his most famous character (last if you don't count AfterM*A*S*H, which nobody does). In the series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," Hawkeye and B.J. stop Col. Potter just before he leaves, and give him one of the only truly respectful salutes of the whole show (I think the only other ones were between Hawkeye and Radar).
Klinger: Colonel Potter, sir! Corporal Klinger. I'm section eight, head to toe. I'm wearing a Warner bra. I play with dolls. My last wish is to be buried in my mother's wedding gown. I'm nuts. I should be out.
Col. Potter: Horse-hockey.
Potter and his company clerk didn't get relaxed around each other until the episode "Dear Mildred," when Radar gives him a horse (that had been found wounded and nursed back to health) as an anniversary present. It's one of the more moving moments of the whole series, but they're careful to cut it when Potter walks behind the horse and slips on...something.
Maj. Frank Burns: That's disgusting!
Col. Sherman T. Potter: [With a big smile] Son, to me, that's a tip-toe through the tulips.
"Old Soldiers," I believe, is the episode for which Morgan won his Emmy. If it isn't it should be. This is the one in which Potter is called to the bedside of a sick friend, whose death leaves Sherman the only surviving member of their World War I unit, and in the end of the episode he toasts their memories with a bottle of wine that the group had saved since those days.
Incidentally, Morgan also directed more than half-a-dozen episodes of M*A*S*H, of which my favorite is "Blood Brothers," from 1981. In this episode Father Mulcahy lets himself get all too swellheaded about a visit from an important army cardinal. But as is the way of this show, the war brings him quickly back down to earth, and leads him to discuss his revelations about his own motivations in a parable which is at first thinly veiled, and then nakedly raw.
Even though his character (or at least, his character's rank) is in the title of "The Colonel's Horse," Morgan appears in maybe only a third of the episode, which is about the medical staff taking care of Sophie (the titular horse) while Potter is away. But he makes the most of the screen time he has, entering the changing room singing "Chinatown, My Chinatown" to celebrate the good fortune of his wife being able to join him in Tokyo, and in this dialogue with the two captains:
Captain B.J. Hunnicut: Can't you do something about Frank?
Col. Sherman T. Potter: Like sit him down and have a talk with him?
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: No, like stand him up and have him shot!
Col. Sherman T. Potter: Don't be absurd. There'd be an inquiry.
Finally, mentioning the oft-mentioned but seldom seen Mildred Potter reminds me of two episodes of M*A*S*H in which the Col. spends time with a couple of women within a decade of his own age for once.
But in "Lil," Sherman spends so much time with the female Col. of the same name that Radar begins to fear for the Potters' marriage. He has little to worry about, in the end, but you will notice that "a little" is not the same as "nothing..."
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Republican strategists are urging party surrogates not to attack President Obama personally. Although that approach may be tempting given his low approval ratings they warn it could backfire because voters “feel sorry for him."
Sorry? No, never. Frustrated yes, that he's acting like a jackass yes, that I wish he'd lean into his leadership just a little bit harder yes, that I wish he'd BE the gun-banner, etc the far-hard right wants to make him out to be, envious of his marriage to the lovely and sexy Michelle definitely, fearful that he'll lose the next election...
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Why is it only ever conservatives who assert that a films politics have any bearing on its performance at the box office?
Once again, conservatives are making noises about how Hollywood studios are pushing liberal propaganda, this time through children's movies. Of course, they mention that most about films that aren't doing terribly well, as if there's a cause and effect:
On its surface, Happy Feet Two is a cutesy sequel about a young penguin who is reluctant to dance. But could there be a radical left-wing agenda lurking below the arctic ice?
Some conservatives think so, The Hollywood Reporter reports, suggesting that the movie’s politics might be a reason why the film has been off to a sluggish start at the box office.
Or maybe, just maybe, I'm gonna go out a limb here and say maybe the film hasn't hit big because by most accounts, it isn't very good.
After Pixar head honcho John Lasseter revealed ahead of the opening of Cars 2 that the oil industry would be the “uber bad guy,” a blogger at LonelyConservative.com wrote this: “We conservatives and believers in free markets are accused of being paranoid when we say the Hollywood industry is trying to indoctrinate our children with left-wing propaganda. But now movie directors and producers are coming out and admitting what they’re doing. I’m just glad I found this out before I allowed my kids to persuade me to take them to see the movie Cars 2.”
Cars 2 this year, by the way, took in 22 percent less at the domestic box office than its predecessor did in 2006.
And maybe, just maybe, that's because it was the first Pixar film EVER to get bad reviews.
The U.S. military and Christianity are also favorite targets for progressives who make family movies, wrote Christian Toto at Human Events, citing, among others, DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens and its character dubbed Gen. W.R. Monger.
Wait a minute. Okay, so the name is a not terribly good pun. But the character is heroic. He saves the other heroes at the end. Did this Christian Toto (that cannot possibly be a real name) even see the movie? Speaking of which-
Admitting upfront that I haven't seen it--anyone who has, you tell me if I'm wrong--but isn't there a case to be made that the 41.7 million-grossing Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is an anti-choice parable?
What I've heard is this: The human girl becomes pregnant by the vampire. Carrying the child to term will almost certainly kill her, so the vampire suggests terminating it, but the girl refuses. Finally, in order to save her life during the difficult childbirth, he finally turns her into a vampire.
So, great, girls: No abortions, no exceptions to save the life of the mother. Of course, in this case, there's a supernatural "Get out of the real moral questions free" card to be played.
My point here is not that this movie is conservative propaganda. It may or may not be. Nor is my point that I wish it had been shunned on that basis. My point is: Liberals don't do that. I ask you, when was the last time you heard or saw a liberal crow about the failure of some "conservative" movie or other creative work? I mean, under the assumption that its conservative "bias" is what killed it?
It's a subject of recurrent fascination to me that many if not most conservatives seem to be incapable of viewing anything but through the prisim of their own politics. We liberals, on the other hand, just like to go to good movies.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
The "killers on the loose" movie that Mel Brooks would've made if he'd ever made a "killers on the loose" movie.
Tucker & Dale are two good ole' boys, a little shy but inclined to be nice and neighborly, who are trying to enjoy a vacation in the mountains, when suddenly they find themselves confronted with a threat they never imagined--Yankee asshole college students! Just remember: These people are the "evil" part of the equation.
The kids imagine the titular hillbillies (now there's two words I never thought I'd use in that order) to be cannibalistic killers, and thinking themselves to be Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead types (the first Evil Dead, the one they tried to take seriously), rush in to "save the day" and end up taking themselves out one by one.
Of course, a good idea (Pixar, talking cars!) does not always a good film make (the actual movie Cars). And boy does this one tread into some dangerous areas, always a risk when you're juggling tones. But the cast and crew develop the idea so neatly that almost everything falls into place.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
See, here we have another example of a photo which is clearly *supposed* to be sexy, but the pose is so strained it negates the natural sexiness of the model.
I swear I'm not going to rest until I get this phrase into the common language: Uncomfortable Women Are Not Sexy...
Retiring member of Congress Barney Frank on the House under Republican rule:“It consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann and that leaves very little room to work things out.”
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
I do have an Amazon.com Wish List, you know (look, there it is over on the left). In addition, these items appear on my iTunes version of same--to which I never did figure out how to link:
UB40: Greatest Hits
20th Century Masters: Grace Jones
After Eight: Taco
Please: Pet Shop Boys
Men and Women (Expanded Edition): Simply Red
Opening Credits Laptop
I thank you.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
And yes, still, Saw
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Actually "nice" isn't quite the right word--better to say that although it looks fairly unrelentingly at the dark, it does not scorn the light, strangely does not wallow in misery.
However, that said, fair warning: There's a famous quote from Francis Ford Coppola who said of his film Apocalypse Now, referring at least in part to the mind, body and soul-breaking experience of making it:
"My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam."
Well, Melancholia is not about depression. It is depression. It gets misery so right that it literally sickened me (insert here joke about my stomach for the Saw films' gore).
Yet in the end, by the very end, I felt spoken to. As though someone had painted a portrait (and the look of the film is quite painterly) in which I recognized...oh what the hell, I'm just going to dive into pretension here-part of my soul.
(This is as good a place as any to link to this NPR interview with Dunst about the film.)
That it does not overindulge in the blue colors is due in part, but only in part, to Kirsten Dunst. In what I take to be an imaginary sequence at the films' beginning, she is shot so lovingly that she instantly gained my affection.
Which was good, because the character was going to need it.
You kind of expect that it will be dark, given the title, and if you go in knowing something about the plot: A young woman tries to fight off her depression long enough to enjoy her wedding night...while the end of all life on Earth is in the stars.
Obvious but necessary statement: Dunst is a woman now. Obviously in physicality, she's been one this whole century (yes, even when she was "Bringing It On")--but what I'm referring to is the female human adult that this film lets her step into playing.
The difference between this and arguably her most famous roles as the attractive, nay beautiful Mary Jane in Sam Rami's Spider-Man films
and the cheerleading captain in Bring It On, is night and day.
Much of the talk here and elsewhere about this film is about Dunst; with good reason, but I must remind myself not to be stinting in my praise of Charlotte Gainsbourg who has the less-showy, maybe even more admirable performance.
She's Dunst's sister who tries to do the decent thing but deep, deep down suspects that her sister may be right about the meaning of lives (not a typo) or lack thereof.
Life is only on Earth. And not for long.
I was not crazy about the first (and last) Lars von Trier movie I saw, which was Breaking the Waves, another film about a mental breakdown and a marriage.
I'm afraid I just couldn't see how nobody in the coastal town of that film would help Emily Watson's clearly distressed young woman.
No matter how buried their collective throats were by the boot of religion.
A similar question pops up here through the first half of the movie, namely, has no one in Dunst's circle heard of Prozac? In the second half, though, as the movie's spotlight of destruction widens out from just the one person to the whole world; then contracts again to just a few...Prozac hardly would've spoken to the reality of the situation.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
In that case, guys, you should have no objection to opening your mouths and letting us spray a shower of the stuff right in there, should you?
On Monday night, O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly and Fox News host Megyn Kelly sat down to discuss what really happened at UC Davis on Friday and whether campus police acted appropriately in showering a group of sitting students with pepper spray. Their conclusion? No big deal.
“Pepper spray, that just burns your eyes, right?” O’Reilly asked Kelly.
“Right,” Kelly said. “I mean, its like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product, essentially.”
Sunday, November 20, 2011
..."Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Rape."
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Kevin Kline's character in The Big Chill has a much quoted "no good music since year X" line that I can't bring myself to quote accurately, as it would mean looking at the movie again...
The accurate quote is actually this exchange of dialogue from Kline's character and Jeff Goldblum's:
Michael: Harold, don't you have any other music , you know, from this century?
Harold: There is no other music, not in my house.
Michael: There's been a lot of terrific music in the last ten years.
Harold: Like what?
I pulled that from the IMDb page, but I could've done it from memory, because even though as a rule, I hate boomers, I happen to love that movie. Go figure. I am large, I contain multitudes. For example, the title of this entry notwithstanding, I'm something of a Star Wars fan.
Empire's dialogue was a lot snappier than Star Wars' (I like to think that a lot of what I enjoyed in Empire was due to the participation of veteran screenwriter Leigh Brackett...
Glenn, Glenn, Glenn. You're making this all too easy, Glenn.
If I may hit you with a few more quotes, these are from the Lucas bio Skywalking:
Lucas had one lengthy meeting with Brackett to outline the story and turn his notes over to her, and by March 1978 Brackett's first draft was done. It was also her last-she died of cancer two weeks later.
One meeting. One draft. Still, I'm sure Brackett's participation is what paid off in enjoyment for Kenny and most others, including myself. Except that:
Lucas shelved Brackett's script and started anew. If he could get a new first draft done, he could turn it over to a new writer, and they could pass versions back and forth until Lucas was satisfied.
But who would be his new writer? Well, a few months later, one Lawrence Kasdan turned in a screenplay Lucas had hired him to write for something called Raiders of the Lost Ark, and he and Lucas went to lunch...
Lucas abruptly launched into the story of Leigh Brackett's untimely death, his problem with Empire, and his need for a writer to polish the new draft. He'd be happy to give Kasdan screenplay credit in Empire (Lucas planned to take none himself) but asked whether Kasdan would mind sharing it with Brackett. He wanted her estate to benefit from a profit percentage of the film.
And that was, indeed, how the writing credits for Empire ran: Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, (screenplay); George Lucas, (story).
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
I figured it was right across Olbermann's strike zone (did I use that metaphor right?)
Sure enough, on tonight's show...
Now, as I say, I'm quite sure I'm not the only one to have thought of that. Plus Keith and/or his staff probably would've found it anyway. But...
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus defended the GOP on Sunday against the notion that its policies only favor the rich, arguing that Republicans are out to create jobs and cut taxes for people of all income levels.
Really? Right, well let's see him then.
"Of course the party doesn’t favor the rich, but what the party does favor is reducing taxes on every single American out there," Priebus said on CNN’s "State of the Union." "Making sure Washington is focused then on job creation, on cutting spending, on reducing the size of government -- these are things that will spur the economy and these are things that are cornerstone to the Republican Party."
I count about five empirically provable lies in that paragraph. How many can you name?
A recent CBS/New York Times poll showed that 69 percent of Americans believe Republican policies favor the rich. Only 9 percent believe they help the middle class.
Priebus blamed that perception on President Barack Obama.
Oh please, Reince. We wish...
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Cain responds to accusations. For every woman who says I harassed her, there are “thousands” who say I didn’t.
This is namely, just how deep up the ass of sports my country has its head. Case in point:
Nike has no plans to change the name of the Joe Paterno Center, a child day care facility on the World Headquarters Campus near Beaverton, in response to a sexual abuse scandal involving one of Paterno's former Penn State University assistants, a Nike spokeswoman said this evening.
Really, that's just sad.
But on the bright side, it looks like my curse is taking.
Penn State football scandal will cost school millions
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with 40 criminal counts accusing him of sexually abusing minors. As the scandal unfolded, it became known that Penn State officials, including Joe Paterno, had known about Sandusky's unlawful behavior.
--was yesterday when Keith Olbermann made Paterno his "worst person in the world" and called for his immediate firing, both of which he repeated today. A few hours later, Paterno was, in fact, fired, along with the school president.
You would think the Penn Board of Trustees would've done this because it is--clearly--the right thing to do in this situation. I would say this was a no-brainer: Coach fails to follow-up on reports that his employee raped children (in the coach's own locker room, no less) coach loses his job. At least.
Asked what Paterno did wrong, [board vice chair John] Surma said: “I can’t characterize that. We thought because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, it was necessary to make changes.”
You can't characterize what he did wrong?
On the other hand, people do get good and irritated whenever sex rears its ugly head around The World's Child Star.
...a new ad for Marc Jacobs' fragrance Oh Lola!, starring "Twilight" actress Dakota Fanning, has been pulled from the British markets after consumers complained that it was sexualizing children.
Am I the only person who thinks this ad is not sexualizing children much if at all (Fanning is 17); not provocative, shocking or sickening?
Monday, November 07, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
He's the guy who said he thought women should have the vote--in 2009 (how generous!)--but never use it. He's the guy whose reaction to the shocking killings at Virginia Tech was to call the students cowards for not rushing the killer, as he's quite sure he would've done.
Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing?
Um, well, there's the law...ah, but Mr. Derbyshire has anticipated me here, for his next statement is:
Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like “racial discrimination“?
I'm not totally sure what he means by "lawyers' ramp," but I think I can get the gist. Which doesn't really matter because I'm still reeling from his assertion that "racial discrimination" isn't a real thing either.
You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up.
You know what I think the difference is between paying a girl (or a woman, ahem) a compliment and sexual harassment? Respect. I'd like to believe that most of the time, women do know the difference.
Is this any way to live?
Well yeah, John, yeah it is, unless you're living in the 1950's. Oh, wait...
There has never in the history of the world been a people better mannered and less inclined to insulting acts of prejudice than today’s Americans,
Well, except for the Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Canada, or pretty much any place where they practice Buddhism, I'm sure he's quite correct.
yet we’re supposed to believe that the nation is seething with “harassment” and “discrimination,” women being groped in every business office and crosses burning on every lawn.
Um, no. You're supposed to believe that harassment and discrimination are real things that do go on and need to be taken seriously when they do. As for women being groped in every office or crosses burning on every lawn, so far as I'm aware no one's asserted that. I think you might be projecting a little wish fulfillment there, John.
Aren’t there any grown-ups around?
You wouldn't think he'd be talking too much about grown-ups, would you, considering he's the guy who publicly asserted that only pubescent girls are attractive...
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Attention, Star Wars fans: You need to see this movie. It's for us but does not pander to us--and not pandering to an assumed audience is more than you can say for roughly half of the Star Wars films.
And besides, where else are you going to see a Japanese stormtrooper getting down with his funky self?
Friday, October 28, 2011
Okay. You guys remember how I cursed the way the story of an "adult" harassing a 13-year-old girl into committing suicide somehow got spun into "The Myspace Suicide Case," simply because that "adult" used MySpace to do her harassing?
Well, it's happening again, and by some sick coincidence, there's a 13-year-old girl involved here, too. A conservative politician in Virginia has admitted to a homosexual affair in the past (but they're feeling much better now, having "prayed the gay away."
By itself, this isn't really news--as my friend Turner is fond of asking, are there any straight conservatives anymore? But this has an unusual, "sexy" twist in that the politician in question is a woman.
Linda Wall, a conservative independent Virginia candidate for the House of Delegates, admitted on Wednesday that she had an affair with a female student as a junior high gym teacher in the early 1970s, but said she has changed.
Every headline I've seen on this--and I just looked at five or six-- describes it as "an affair." Sometimes they add the word "lesbian," and sometimes they mention in the banner that it was with a student, but still call it "an affair."
When an "adult" has sexual contact with a minor, it's not an affair. It's child molestation. And when you add it that as a teacher, Ms. Wall was in a position of authority and trust...well, just imagine if she were a man. You think they'd be calling it "an affair" then, whether gay or not?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
"Makes Mariah Carey sound like someone who made it on the basis of her talent. Makes Pseudo Echo sound like lyrical geniuses."
No, I wouldn't either. But Tey Punsalan would. And I know that because I wrote the review.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I first heard of Corwin through J. Michael Straczynski, who is the creator and chief writer of the television series Babylon 5, and the screenwriter of films including The Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood.
Straczynski admired Corwin inordinately, naming a recurring character in B5 after him and talking about him as "a writer's writer." So when I got a chance to listen to Corwin's work on one of those "Old-Time Radio" sets, I paid particular attention.
JMS was right. This guy was great.
Sometimes called "the poet laureate of radio," Corwin could be childlike in his passion for wordplay. A couple of his most acclaimed works, The Plot To Overthrow Christmas and my personal favorite, The Undecided Molecule, were written entirely in rhyme. They sound like Dr. Seuss before anybody sounded like Dr. Seuss, including Dr. Seuss.
relates the account of a molecule who refuses to work for one of the elements. In the story, the court charges the molecule with:Unwilling to be named.
Rebelling when defined.
Declining to be blamed.
Objecting when assigned.
Protesting when selected.
Resisting an attack.
Refusing to be directed.
And talking back.
(BTW, the court that's mentioned is presided over by Groucho Marx.)
Defending itself, the molecule says through an interpreter:
I cannot chide
My inner soul:
I must confide
I've set a goal...
Let me explain to you how widely admired Corwin was in his day. He was famous enough to appear as a guest star on comedy programs of the time, where his work was satirized under the assumption that audiences would be familiar enough with the original. (This was a good assumption. Keep reading.)
The period just before, during and at the end of WWII was probably Corwin's peak, and indeed he book-ended it with a couple of his most highly regarded works.
One hundred fifty years is not long in the reckoning of a hill. But to a man it's long enough.
One hundred fifty years is a weekend to a redwood tree, but to a man it's two full lifetimes.
One hundred years is a twinkle to a star, but to a man it's time enough to teach six generations what the meaning is of Liberty, how to use it, when to fight for it!
And in the closing Jimmy Stewart, who'd already enlisted, asked:
Can it be progress if our Bill of Rights is stronger now than when it was conceived?
In 1944, Corwin wrote a piece called Untitled. This reviews the life of a soldier only recently killed in action, from the varying perspectives of the M.O. who pronounced him, the doctor who delivered him, his mother; teachers, the girl he left behind, the editor of a paper reporting his death, his friend...and the enemy who shot him.
From my acre of now undisputed ground I will be listening:
I will be tuned to clauses in the contract where the word Democracy appears
And how the freedoms are inflicted to a Negro's ear.
I shall listen for a phrase obliging little peoples of the earth:
For Partisans and Jews and Puerto Ricans,
Chinese farmers, miners of tin ore beneath Bolivia;
I shall listen how the words go easy into Russian
And the idiom's translated to the tongue of Spain.
I shall wait and I shall wait in a long and long suspense
For the password that the Peace is setting solidly.
On that day, please to let my mother know
Why it had to happen to her boy.
That's heavy stuff, so let me give you a couple more examples of the lighter side of Corwin. The writer also acted as director for most of his broadcast work, and like the best writers (not just the best radio writers, the best writers) and directors, he was attuned to music and sound as well as the spoken word.
Describing a cue for music he wanted in his play Savage Encounter, he wrote:
A nocturne expressing the south sea island you remember from your fondest imaginings. Healthy lusts and red flowers and blue skies and bare breasts are all mixed up in it.
Obviously, this was my kind of guy.
For another play he needed the sound of his characters rushing down the stairs in fear of missing their train (the play was about a romantic meeting on the railways between a soldier and a girl).
As the end of the war approached, Corwin wrote There Will Be Time Later, the intent of which was to fight off complacency, isolationism, and political attacks. He used the characters of a fascist and the diffident to ask:
Why should we bother with the Great Unwashed?
And gave this reply:
...when you tell him it's the Great Unwashed who wash away the stains of high corruption,
It's the common man, un-manicured, whose hand prevails against the Elite Guard,
He will rejoin:
You make me sick, you and your people with a capital P.
At that point you can break the news to him:
The People shall remain in capitals, coming before Princes in the alphabet of things...
I have a book about Corwin called On A Note Of Triumph. The author of that book, R. LeRoy Bannerman, said critics of the day
"...saw in Corwin a fresh, new influence: an independent whose concept of broadcasting dared to be different. They saw in his work literacy uncommon in the communicative arts."
In his book Raised on Radio Gerald Nachman says of Corwin:
"Whatever his shortcomings--purple passages, heavy-handed
irony, liberal bias--they were overcome by the programs' ambitions, impact,
superior writing, and high production values."
Bannerman's book is named after what is arguably Corwin's most famous work On A Note Of Triumph, written for the end of World War II. The first broadcast of this show was heard by some 60 million Americans. (That's over half of the adult population at the time. Remember what I said about it being a good assumption that audiences knew his work?)
How much did it cost?
Well, the gun, the halftrack, and the fuselage come to a figure resembling mileages between two stars-
Impressive, but not to be grasped by any single imagination.
High octane is high, and K rations in the aggregate mount up; also mosquito netting and battleships.
But these costs are calculable, and have no nerve endings.
And will eventually be taken care of by the federal taxes on antiques, cigarettes, and excess profits.
However, in the matter of the kid who used to deliver folded newspapers to your doorstep, flipping them sideways from his bicycle,
And who died on a jeep in the Ruhr,
There is no fixed price, and no amount of taxes can restore him to his mother.
(About five years ago, a documentary about Corwin and that broadcast, A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, won the Documentary--short subject--Oscar.)
But, for that piece he had months to prepare. For his last program written about the war, he had one night. He began on August 13th a program he completed on, and titled, 14 August, read by Orson Welles.
The turtle is young at sixty-one, but the flier is dead at eighteen.
Remember them when July comes around
And the shimmer of noon excites the locusts
When the pretty girls bounce as they walk in the park,
And the moth is in love with the fifty-watt bulb
And the tar on the road is blistered.
For further reading: An interview with Corwin from about 15 years ago.
Monday, October 17, 2011
"Who's searching for me now?"
Today's contestant comes to us from an IP Address for Comcast Cable in Detroit, Michigan, here in the great USA.
But whoever this is, he, she or undecided (and with some of my friends past and present it's hard to tell) found this blog by Googling my name; stayed around for almost a minute.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
In the last half century alone we have lamented the end of American innocence around the cold war, John F. Kennedy's assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis, Iran-contra, Monica Lewinsky, 9/11, and, more recently, the war in Iraq, our fading status abroad, and the global economic crisis, imagining the simpler times that preceded them.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Saw 3D (2010)
Yup, almost a year later and I'm still not over it. Over what? Over the experience of sitting in a seat watching what was unfolding onscreen and coming to the realization: This is really it. It's not going to get any better.
Carlito's Way (1993)
I could put many of Brian De Palma's films on this list. He's just a director I will never trust. But this one in particular, though like many of his films it has its fans, to me just takes itself way too seriously for as flawed as it is.
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
This is another franchise that I'm actually a fan of, though in no way near to the pathological obsession I developed with Saw. By the same token, this one isn't the slap in the face that Saw 3D was. It's just...boring.
And when I'm bored watching Milla Jovovich (even dressed)...the world has truly turned upside-down.
As a wise man once said,
See, making cartoon drawings move, by itself, isn't animation any more than putting piles of meat on sticks and moving them around--Meat Puppets, to coin a phrase--would be acting. For real animation, you need (not to be too didactic)...soul. And Beowulf doesn't have a drop of it.
Even the voice actors sound indifferent.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Just one of the million-or-so things for which George Lucas needs to be bitch slapped.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005).
It may be stretching a point to say that I hated this movie. Like Resident Evil: Afterlife its biggest crime is that it's just terribly, terribly boring. And for the record, while I enjoyed many of the Narnia books growing up, it's not one of those things where any deviation from the original was going to piss me off.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
In a few words: I loathe Tim Burton with the heat of 1,000 suns. In a few more...
Jaws 3 (1983)
I know that Jaws: The Revenge frequently gets named on lists like these, and god knows I'm not saying that was a better sequel. But Jaws 3 has always inched it out for me in the crappy movie department by virtue of the fact that a key feature of the plot is that the big mama shark is hiding by staying put in an underwater tunnel.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
A pet peeve of mine is sequels in which the mechanics of the plot require a lot of people in the movie to forget things that they should know perfectly well from the first movie. In this case, it's the eons of time wasted while they run through the "But I don't believe in ghosts" rigmarole.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)
I had to see this with my nephew. Believe me, I begged him to choose The Princess and the Frog or Fantastic Mr. Fox, both of which were playing in the same theater at the same time, and both of which I've subsequently seen and know to be much better movies (especially Frog).
I want my brains back!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
"A Podcast & Forum about mental illness & depression ~ especially among artists."
Okay, I'm gonna have to go serious on you here for a minute. As I think most of you know who are reading this, I was raised in an environment that was dysfunctional in some key ways. Largely but perhaps not entirely because of that, I suffer from depression.
In fighting this, I've been taking medication, and I've also tried to open myself up to a little Buddhism-influence (or a lot). I'm not going to turn this into an entry all about my reactions and feelings in this fight (I have a whole other blog for that), but some ways in which the depression manifests itself are hopelessness, fear, isolation and shame.
Well, here's a show the stated goal of which is spreading the idea, not that everything's coming up roses...but that roses can still grow. Of figuring out how to stay safe against those things, real and imagined, that you're scared of. A show the motto of which is "You Are Not Alone." A show that honors the suffering.
It does this in the form of remarkably candid interviews with people, usually in the comedy performing and/or writing business, who've suffered from depression and/or other mental illnesses.
This makes for an excellent use of the intimacy of the podcast format. You really feel as though the people conversing have forgotten that their words are being recorded and will be "broadcast" (or whatever it is podcasts do). Though obviously, that can't be so.
This is another one that I subscribed to after hearing only one episode. However, although it still pushes some of my buttons is mostly good ways, I do have a couple of qualms; they're both about the host.
Paul Gilmartin is not a mental health professional. Nor does he pretend to be (he's not Dr. Laura); the website for the show states clearly:
This site is not intended to replace the need for medical diagnosis. Please leave that to professionals. It’s not a doctor’s office. Think of it more as a waiting room that doesn’t suck.
Yet I still feel sometimes uneasy, or at least...not completely at ease.
If my expectations for this are higher than they are for something like good old WTF, it's because WTF hasn't hung out a shingle advertising for the neurotic (the neurotic just show up there).
Okay, I've talked enough--maybe/probably more than enough. Listen to a few and make up your own mind. Recommended episodes: Wendy Liebman, Greg Behrendt, Marc Maron and Frank Conniff.
This podcast is a series of true stories told by the people they happened to. Most though not all of these are entertainers and writers; some you'll know, others you won't. At least one that had me laughing out loud was told by someone I had never heard of before.
The idea being that these should be events the tellers never in a million years thought they would be telling to anyone, let alone an audience. Hence the name for the show. The results are always interesting, often funny and entertaining.
But I should be clear: The stories are by no means all meant to be funny. Many of them are, but some of them are just devastating. Some are stories you'll wish had happened to you, others you'll thank whatever name you put "god" under in the book have never happened to you.
The weekly-changing variety of storytellers makes it a bit like an anthology--okay, maybe exactly like an anthology: If you don't enjoy one particular story, you have a chance that the next one will be better.
And like many anthologies, each episode has a theme around which each tale is supposed to spin. Some of the connections made are weird, but who cares?
At least one recent episode does suffer from the same flaw for which I chided Rob Paulsen: An irritatingly hard sell for a project the host wishes to promote, but it remains to be seen whether or not this will prove a habit.
Recommended episodes: Son of Strange Sex, In Harms Way, and Sneaky Choices.
How Did This Get Made?
I've talked about this one of my favorite podcasts a couple of times here already. It's a show that, to quote the opening theme song, "wallow[s] in the mediocrity of sub-par art." Twice a month their goal is to take aim at some movie which is not just bad, but amazingly so.
Paul Scheer hosts along with Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael. And there's a fourth "chair" filled by a different guest each episode.
Raphael is Scheer's wife, incidentally. But completely not incidentally, all three of the regulars are working actors and/or writers in Hollywood. This means their speculation on just what the hell was happening on the sets of the movies they report on can be well-informed, certainly more so than mine would be, and maybe yours.
Scheer had a supporting role in Piranha 3-D and returns in its upcoming sequel, and has floated the idea of a special show on one or both of those movies, perhaps with other members of the cast and/or crew.
While I'd like to hear that episode, it does drift a bit far astray of the "so unintentionally stupid they're funny/so bad they're good" criteria. Piranha 3-D is intentionally stupid, funny, and good.
No, the movie I await their taking on with baited breath is...one I'll admit right now that I haven't seen, but most everyone who has seems to think sucked. It's one not only that Raphael and Scheer appeared in, but that Raphael actually co-wrote with one of their guests, Casey Wilson: Bride Wars.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
You're likely to have gotten by now that I prefer my podcasts on the lighter side, although there are certainly exceptions--WTF can get pretty heavy, for example. But Pop My Culture is probably the coziest podcast around.
It's like sitting on a sofa with a couple of funny, nerdy friends, hosts Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland. Who developed pretty quickly if not instantaneously into a good double act.
Their guests tend to be people whose names you may or may not recognize depending on how aware you were of that sort of thing in preadulthood, but whose work you definitely know if you were young at all in the '80s.
For example: William Zabka, Eddie Deezen, Alan Ruck, and Savage Steve Holland w/Curtis Armstrong.
Unfortunately I can't recommend it as a regular listen. Not that Paulsen doesn't have some great stories to tell, he does. And like most voice-over artists, he can raise a smile simply by adopting a voice from when you were a kid (he was Pinky of and the Brain, Yakko of the Animaniacs and hundreds more).
Listening to at least a handful of his shows is well worth your time: Episode 7, with special guest “The Brain” Maurice Lamarche is the one I’d suggest first.
The problem is that he front-loads each episode with too long a commercial for seminars he's offering across the States. I don't object to him promoting this venture, the podcast is, after all, free, and he has the right to use it to get people in their seats at paying gigs.
(It should also be noted that a percentage of the moneys from these seminars is to go to charity, in the interest of fairness and fullness)
How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner
If you're anything like me, you may find yourself disagreeing with Klausner at least as often as you agree with and/or are amused by her. But where else are you going to find a podcast with segments on favorite performances of the National Anthem? Or interviews with Paul Scheer of the podcast How Did This Get Made? (which I'll get to any day now) and movie star Sally Kellerman in the same episode?
Friday, September 02, 2011
Kevin Pollak's Chat Show
Actor and comedian Pollak was an "early adopter" of the online show/podcast format with this series, which he has described as an attempt to make "a funny Charlie Rose." Which I interpret as something with dignity which also tries to go a little deeper than your average come-on-and-plug-your-movie show...and is also funny.
The resulting show, available in both audio and video formats, is hit-and-miss. The best come when Pollak gets to the conversation with his guest quickly. He too often spends too much time beforehand chatting with regulars Sam Levene, the closest thing this show has to an Andy Richter, and Jaime Fox, who assists Pollak in the running of the show (she's also his romantic partner). This is not as much fun for the audience, or at least not this member of it, as Pollak thinks.
But some of the conversations are excellent, with Michael McKean a recent standout, and a joint appearance from Paul Provenza + Rick Overton a little further back another. Certainly enough to keep me a subscriber.
(The Laura Prepon interview, on the other hand, I've yet to be able to get through and it's not just because I don't like looking at Prepon so much since she went blonde--why, god, why?. It's because their conversation sinks into a discussion of poker, of interest to both of them as well as Levene. Just not to me. I can listen to conversations about things not really of interest to me, if those conversing can connect to me in such a way that I understand at least their passion for it. A recounting of winning hands does not qualify, at least not without a good story to go with it.)
I've said of other shows in this ongoing "tribute" that they were "relaxed" and/or "easygoing." Well, Elizabeth Laime (get it?) takes that to such an extreme on her podcast that one could almost forget she was even there; her guests seem to get the lion's share of the attention. I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing.
Recommended episodes: Garfunkel and Oates; Margot Leitman