Friday, February 25, 2011

I Dig George Harrison

Today is George's birthday! I put his first five solo albums on shuffle (the proper ones, not the 'experimental' stuff), and am digging it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Louis Prima 'The Wildest!'

I first became aware of Louis Prima because of his work as the voice of 'King Louie' in the Jungle Book. His tune from that flick, 'I Wanna Be Like You' was always a favorite of mine.

I just got his 1957 gem The Wildest!, and man, it cooks hotter than a Red State meth lab!

'Banana Split For My Baby' (a bonus on the CD) is probably my favorite. It also has his medley 'Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody' that David Lee Roth covered back in the 80's. Louis' version is much better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ax Men: Gabe Rygaard is a Bad Actor

I kind of like 'Ax Men' on the History Channel. I suppose it's cuz I'm from Oregon and enjoy the scenery. And watching the guys work so hard at such a dangerous job can actually be inspiring. It makes it a desk-jockey like myself feel guility about complaining about much of anything.

But this Gabe Rygaard and his phony baloney acting has really got to me. The last straw was a recent episode where his dad secretly hires Gabe's arch enemy from another logging crew.

Gabe, you need some acting lessons, son. Your nose-to-nose confrontation with JD Jeremiah was embarrassing even for a reality-show. Especially one that is 'sort of' real.

The Sunset Limited

If you have HBO, check out this super production starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. I've watched it twice now, once when it was first shown Sunday night, and again the next day using 'On Demand'.

This is a freaky, disturbing drama with two guys hashing out the 'meaning of life' debate. And the ending, like all great stories leave us with more questions than answers. Who won the argument? Who lost? And what the eff was that all about?

Are the characters 'real'? Who knows?

Tommy Lee Jones wants to die. He blames his death wish on the death of the things he loved most, books, art...and I think that's the core of the story. He describes those things, which he once thought were indestructible, as fragile and now lost in a world of shit.

So true. And while the writer of the piece, Cormac McCarthy, is most likely talking about highfalutin culture, I feel the same sense of loss in pop culture, which was riding so high for such a long time.

If you had asked me in 1970, 'What do you think pop culture will be like in 2011?', I don't think I would've guessed it would be a cesspool of loud violent movies, television programs that pretend to be 'real' but are actually people pretending to fight and exhibit crude behavior, and a music scene without heroes or melodies.

But the irony of 'The Sunset Limited', a television production, is that television has actually improved over the last ten years or so. A sort of 'Silver Age', if you will. And while 99.9% of movies, novels and music suck for actual grown-ups, television offers a lot of well written shows that actually seem to care about character and message and manage to be entertaining. Yeah, there are still fake 'reality' shows and tons of crap but you also get gems like 'The Sunset Limited'. Check it out, Pilgrim!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oscar Predictions 2011

Since I'm not in a pool this year, I thought I'd post my picks here. I'll also tell you who I would like to win, which is different than a prediction.

I'm not going to list the can find those on

BEST PICTURE: The Social Network will win. Like 1976's All The President's Men, it captures the time and place and a milestone of not only history but of how people see the world. All The Prez's lost to Rocky, and that was okay. The Prez movie was overshadowed by it's high-profile cast. As far as competition goes, The King's Speech seems to be the only contender, but I'm thinking that's an old-school Best Picture. I think we've moved on and the Academy are picking more interesting movies lately (The Departed, No Country for Old Men, Hurt Locker, etc.).

I also think Social Network SHOULD win. It's my fav of the nominees.

BEST ACTOR: Colin Firth will win simply by process of elimination. Bridges won last year, Franco won't win because the amputation scene is a turn-off, Bardem has a dark horse shot, but he already won a Supporting Oscar a few years back and Eisenberg won't win because he does such a good job, it doesn't seem like acting. I LIKE Eisenberg cuz it's a tough part and he pulls it off.

BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman will win because the Oscars are dominated by a bunch of old geezers who wanna see a hottie win an award. Besides, she deserves it. MY PICK, TOO.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Tough one. Everybody says Christine Bale, but I thought his performance was to hammy and the movie itself wasn't gritty enough to make me believe he was crackhead or in prison. Hell, that crackhouse was nicer than some sober people's apartments. I'm going out on a limb and picking Geoffrey Rush to win, even though he won ages ago for Shine. I think King's Speech is an 'actors' movie, which is why they'll toss those awards at it and ignore it for directing, writing and best picture. I LIKE Mark Ruffalo. He's always good and deserves it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tough one. I'm picking Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit, which is a close-second for me in the Best Picture category. She gives a performance unlike anything I've ever seen and the Oscars love a new kid. Amy Adams is also good and should have a shot. I LIKE Hailee myself

DIRECTING: Gotta go with Social Network again. The movie looks great and even though I love the Coen's, they have enough Oscars. MY PICK, TOO.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: King's Speech might win, but it's too weird to give the writing award to a movie about a guy who stutters. And it's not that interesting of a script. Like I said, it's all in the acting. I say they toss the bone to The Fighter. Great dialogue, nice pace, complicated story told really well. I LIKE Another Year, which may be the most interesting movie of the year.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Social Network. My pick and will win. If I had to bet on one sure thing, this is it. The writer Aaron Sorkin is a big cheese in Hollywood and taking such a seemingly dull subject and turning it into a script that unfolds like a creepy Hitchcockian thriller is amazing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Come Back, Little Sheba

Watched this film on Turner Classics last night. What a great little movie. Shirley Booth (who I always hated in that awful TV show 'Hazel'), is fabulous. She played the role on Broadway and Burt Lancaster is her alcoholic hubby.

Super cast. A super young Richard Jaeckel, who I always dug especially in Sometimes a Great Notion and the Dirty Dozen. The guy was in everything and always good. He even played Archie Bunker's gay buddy in an 'All in the Family' episode (you can imagine Archie's reaction).

Terry Moore is also great and a real cutie pie.

The story is perfect. The symbolism of the lost dog (Sheba) is inspired. Check it out, Pilgrim!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New Rule: Stop Saying "It Was Like Something in a Movie"

Okay, so maybe I'm beating a dead horse here. Or maybe I should send it to Bill Maher for his 'New Rules' segment. But please, stop saying EVERYTHING is like something in a movie! I hear it almost everyday. It's ridiculous!

I heard Nancy Grace say it on 'The View' the other day when she described her doctor telling her she had (or might have) cancer ("He took me in his office. It was like a scene from a movie").

And a local newscaster said it when he described a huge pile of snow on the roof of a truck colliding with an overpass ("It looks like a movie stunt").

First off, it's really lazy because you could say it about anything. For example, "I ordered a glass of beer. It was like something from a movie".

And second, WHAT MOVIE!? If you're describing a specific scene from a specific movie MAYBE it's okay. Like "I was driving really fast and flew over a hill and bottomed-out like the car chase scene in Bullit."

But this generic term for anything horrible or spectacular is just plain dumb. Stop it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

'Band of Brothers' Leader Dies at 92

I read that Richard 'Dick' Winters of 'Band of Brothers' fame died the other day. I was a big fan of the show and the book, and decided to break out the DVDs when I heard the news and watch a few.

Two days later, I had watched all ten episodes again, including the 'extras' disc.

What a great show. I would put it up there with 'Star Trek', 'The Sopranos' and 'The Honeymooners' as one of the best television series ever. Produced by Tom Hanks and Spielberg after their success with Saving Private Ryan, they tried it again with 'The Pacific' recently, but that show pales in comparison. It was pretty good, but it lacked great characters and some of the episodes were kind of dull (like when they go on leave to Australia...yawn).

Maybe it's just that the war in Europe makes for better story telling. But whatever the reasons, 'Band of Brothers' doesn't have one boring episode. Hell, it doesn't even have one boring scene.

My favorite 'Brother' is Donald Malarkey. I dig him because, like me, he's an Oregonian. He's still alive and lives in Salem. He's played by an actor I really like, Scott Grimes. Grimes played 'Archie Morris' during the last few seasons of 'ER' and was great in that role, too.

Rest in peace, Captain Winters.