Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Match Game

Once in a while I catch 'Match Game' on the Game Show Network. It's a loving tribute to the early/mid-70's, which contrary to general opinion, was actually a pretty cool era. It was like the 60's without the violence. 'Match Game' was a huge hit back then and had a daytime and nighttime version. It made Richard Dawson a star, and the other regulars, Bret Summers, the fab Charles Nelson Reilly and host Gene Rayburn had a super chemistry. The clothes, the 70's references, the sitcom stars and comedians are a groovy snapshot of the time. I also dig seeing the (somewhat forgotten) women I had a crush on as a teenager like Joanne Pflug and Mary Ann Mobley. And some of the women who I barely noticed back then I find surprisingly sexy now. Like Elaine Joyce and Fannie Flagg. But the best thing is the references to 70's culture. Lots of Godfather and Jolly Green Giant jokes. I heard one today that cracked my up:

'TV Guide Listing: Tonight, Cannon blanks an elephant'.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why Did The Beatles Break Up?

When people find out I'm a Beatles nut, they sometimes ask me this. I'd rather they ask 'What's your favorite album?' or 'What do you think of their movies?' because that's more fun to talk about.

But the simple answer to the 'break-up' question is that old saying:

'Familiarity Breeds Contempt'.

It wasn't Yoko or the death of Brian Epstein. And it wasn't drugs or that they were going in 'different directions musically'. It was that they were just plain sick and tired of each other. Like marriage and roommates, you start out like peas in a pod and can end up not being able to stand being in the same room with the other one.

And it's show-biz tradition. Whether it Dean and Jerry or Mick and Keith or Laverne and Shirley.

For those of us who were around during the Beatles' career, we saw it coming because they started doing 'solo' projects. But it didn't make it any less sad or diminish our hopes for a reunion.

I think the reason it seems tragic is because of what they represented. Not politically or as the spokesmen for the 'love generation', but because they had been so tight. 'The Four Headed Monster', Mick Jagger called them. They had the same haircuts, same clothes, and the same sense of humor. And even as they changed, they'd all morph at the same time. We, especially the male fans I think, envied that and wished we could be in a gang like The Beatles. So when they called it quits, we all thought, 'Sheesh. If those four end up bickering and suing each other, what hope is there for the rest of us?'

They initially were bonded by their tunnel vision focus on 'making it'. Then when they became the most famous act in the business, they bonded over the shared experiences and pressures. When they moved to London, there was the 'Liverpool' thing that kept them close and the 'Londoners' at arms length. Geoff Emerick talks about that in his book. And it was definitely true with the wives/girlfriends, too. Cyn and Maureen were a duo as were Jane and Patti.

But those things eventually fell away and became less important. John Lennon said that it got to a point with the Beatles, where it would be like 'My life is a misery because you got the tambourine part wrong!'. Like when you want to kill your roommate for leaving the butter out.

But the truly surprising thing about it is that it took them as long as it did to break-up. After years of spending nearly every day together, and factoring in the money and egos and yes-men whispering in their ears, it's amazing they didn't split even sooner.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stuff People Just Make Up

It isn't just Fox News and politics. People just make stuff up all of the time. Here are some examples of things I've actually heard friends and acquaintances say:

'The Beatles were all on drugs when they made their records'.

Okay, there is a smidgen of truth to that, but it's pretty much a myth. The Beatles rarely took drugs when they were in the studio making music. Ringo says so in the 'Anthology' documentary and everything I've read backs it up. Yes, drugs influenced their song writing. But so did a million other things.

'Ayn Rand named names at the McCarthy hearings':

I'm no fan of Ms. Rand's influence on the current economy. But I do find her fascinating and have read numerous books about her as well as her own writings. Regarding the McCarthy hearings, she did testify, but did not name names or inform on colleagues. She talked about a film, Song of Russia, that she felt was misleading in its cheerful portrayal of Russia.

'Stanley Kubrick was a misogynist':

I suppose people are misinterpreting Kubrick's messages because they have a predetermined idea of what a movie is supposed to be. That is, the main character is someone we like or identify with. But Kubrick's films are unique. They are pessimistic and unconventional. 'Good guys' are rare, and usually buffoons. Kubrick's world is pretty much all bad. And if anything, they show how much he actually hated men, not women.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Cream Rises to the Top

There's a notion out there that the 'super stars' of the world got there because of a 'break' or 'good luck' or who they slept with.

But I think that when talking about the 'best of the best' in the entertainment world, whether it be music, sports, writing, movies or television, that those who have certain ingredients are destined to find success. I'm not talking about 'celebrities' like Paris Hilton or Snookie. I mean people like Leo DiCaprio, Gwenyth Paltrow, John Grisham, Tim Lincicum, and Eminem.

Yes, the majority of actors and musicians who find success get lucky. There's a lot of work involved, too, but some stumble into a hit show or A-List rock band because of luck. After all, somebody has to play the wacky friend who gets a few lines every week on 'Big Bang Theory' and a lot of people could do it. And somebody has to be the bass player in U2. A lot of musicians could pull it off. Those kinds of jobs are breaks and a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

But even if they aren't your cup of tea, you can't dismiss the elite super-stars as being just lucky. It takes ambition and talent (and the 'it' factor if you're an actor or singer). And they also have to be responsible and cooperative. There are a lot of talented and ambitious people who could've been famous, but they're nut jobs and can't work well with others.

This idea of stardom being a fluke is based on the fact that a lot of this stuff looks easy. But even being an 'average' musician, actor, pro athlete or writer takes a lot of practice.

I've often heard a would-be writer call a talk-show with a famous novelist guest and ask 'How do I get published?'. The fact that they even have to ask the question proves they are not that dedicated or ambitious. Someone who lives and breathes writing already has some clue as to how to bust into the industry because they hang out with other writers, and publish things in small magazines and online. And they've read all of the writing magazines and 'how to' books. If they're not doing that stuff, what makes them think they could get a novel published let alone be the next Stephen King? Yet people do. But they are generally people who mearly have an 'idea' for a book and they read a lot and think they could do it, too.

The people who run the 'business', be it sports or show business, are scouring the world for that next super-star. If there's money to be made, they will find them. But those potential super-stars have to have those one-in-a-million gifts. They can't just want it. Or think they have it.

Friday, March 04, 2011

IMDB: Wha' Happened?

I used to love IMDB. It was my 'go to' site when I needed to find out some trivial thing I was either curious about or couldn't remember. Like when a friend of mine and I spent two hours trying to remember Katie Holmes' name and we finally had to look it up. Ever play that game? You refuse to go online and make your brain recall a fact you know you know. Good exercise for the noodle.

But back to IMDB. I realized I wasn't using it as much because they changed the interface. It's way too busy. Graphics everywhere, images moving around, text that's 'continued' somewhere else and they've managed to turn a perfect little site into a big mess.

Not sure what their game plan is. I suppose they're trying to get into the streaming/Netflix business...I dunno. Seems like everybody is trying to ride the coattails of gool ol' Netflix these days. Good luck IMDB. And Bhuy Bye!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Charlie Sheen: Winning

Charlie Sheen obviously faked his 'drug test'. Just how he did it doesn't really matter, but there's no chance in hell that he doesn't have (at least) some pot in his system.

I watched his '20/20' interview and he looks totally shot. He's only 45 and looks like a 55 year old junkie. He's obviously an addict and so far gone that he will be dead, in a mental hospital or in prison before long. Unless, of course, he gets sober. But that's about as likely as his returning to the small screen anytime soon.