Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Greatest Name Ever?

Hakan Loob.

A hockey player who was with the Calgary Flames back in the 1980's. I wish my name was Hakan Loob.

More Ringo on Sirius

I heard most of the Sirius 'town hall'. As I mentioned before, I'm a bit fed up with Ringo's 'grumpy old man' persona. More specifically, the things that irk me about Ringo are:

A) He doesn't seem to care that he's there. Getting Russell Brand to do the interview was a big deal and the main reason I wanted to hear it. But he doesn't acknowledge that and acts like the whole thing is a chore.

B) He tells the same stories we've heard a million times ('During the rooftop concert, I was hoping they would drag me off my drum stool.')

and C) He doesn't seem happy when people compliment his drumming. He just acts like (again), that it's a chore to even respond. Why not say the truth. that for years he really took it on the chin over his style. He supposedly couldn't do a fill. Wasn't technical enough. But the style is perfect for the Beatles, and on the later albums especially, really compliments the music. The fact that John Lennon and George Harrison, who could've hired any drummer in the world, picked him to play on their solo albums is proof enough that he's good. In recent years, a lot of top flight musicians (Dave Stewart, Phil Collins) have come forward saying how good he really was.

Looking back on his solo career, Ringo had some cool albums and hits. And I loved those early singles, 'It Don't Come Easy' and 'Back off Boogaloo'. And the albums Beaucoups of Blues, Ringo and Goodnight Vienna are great. But after that, he never did anything very interesting. Yeah, there was a good song here and there, but he's a novelty act. And three decent albums and a few singles is about what you would expect.

After his album sales slipped and he started jumping from one record label to another, he would've been better off sticking to drumming for other people and being in films. And that very first 'All Star' line-up was great. Joe Walsh, Billy Preston, Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Dr. John. But the subsequent tours had fewer true 'all stars' and Ringo is not front man material. He seems uncomfortable when he's not behind his kit.

On the other hand, if Ringo chooses to make records and sing, I'd rather he did that than do nothing at all. As a Beatles' nut, I'm always interested. But I'd have more respect for him if he would've called it quits after Bad Boy or Stop and Smell the Roses. And I just wish he seemed a little more grateful and enthusiastic instead of the guy who posts videos on his website saying 'No more autographs! Do not send any more items for me to sign! They will be thrown away! Peace and love.'

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ringo on Sirius

Today Ringo Starr had a 'town hall' meeting on Sirius. It was hosted by Russell Brand and Don Was.

Let's face it. Ringo is just a grumpy old man now. He's been that way for a while, and even though I want to pretend he's just having a bad day, it's turned into a five year long bad day. It's not like he's a monster, but he keeps talkin' that 'peace and love' stuff but seems rude to the audience and even to Russell Brand.

I only listened to about half of the show and will give more details if I catch the encore.

Ringo's solo career doesn't matter. Except for a couple of early albums and singles, everything he's done is pretty meaningless. And he was always more interesting as an actor than a singer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oscars: Why Nine Best Picture Nominees is Stupid

It's stupid because there's only five Best Director nominees. It's highly unlikely that a movie not nominated for Best Director would win Best Picture. It only happened once in my lifetime, and that was in 1989 (Driving Miss Daisy).

And with Nine nominees, it's even less likely!

And if you look at the Best Screenplay nominees, you can get an even better idea of who will win Best Picture. But don't strain yer brain. The Artist is a lock.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Would Don Draper brown bag it?

Somebody at work asked me why I don't ever  pack a lunch? Why do I always go out? I said, 'Well, I do pack a lunch about twice a year. Usually right after Thanksgiving and I bring a turkey sandwich.' But I end up eating it at 10AM and go out for lunch anyway.

'Besides,' I said. 'Would Don Draper pack a lunch? Would James Bond (when he's doing office work at the Secret Service HQ) brown bag it? Would Captain Kirk pack a cheese sandwich or try out the alien cuisine?'

I think we know the answer. Packing your lunch is not cool. It's a Momma's Boy move.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Elizabeth Montgomery - Mainy

When I was a kid, my buddies I used the term 'mainy' to describe an actress or pin-up gal we especially liked. It was slang for a 'favorite' or 'main gal'.

For whatever reason, the term stuck and spread to other friends, and some of us still use it. As in a recent conversation with an old Portland friend where I described Kate Winslet as 'a mainy'.

Without a doubt, my #1 Mainy was always Elizabeth Montgomery. And not just because she was so damn good lookin'. If that was a qualifier, all mainys would be Super Models.

'Betwitched' was on the air pretty much my entire childhood. So it wasn't until the later seasons and syndication that I began to appreciate her. I think I also saw all of her TV movies and she made a lot of them.

But it was as Samantha that I fell for Elizabeth. And not because of the witchcraft gimmick. It was because she was smart, sweet, mischievous and sexy.

What's cool about her, too, is that she made a flawless transition from the popular curvy body/hair flip look of the early 60's to the thin body/straight hair look of the late 60's. Both looks suited her, but I preferred the later look like in this interesting promo shot for 'Betwitched's' last season (when they put it up against 'All in the Family'...talk about culture clash).

I always loved the episodes where she played her lookalike cousin Serena. Playing opposite of sweet Samantha, Serena was a wild hippie and played sitar and talked about her 'guru'. Fun stuff. And seeing Liz play the sexy dark haired, mini-skirt wearing character was turn-on.

Elizabeth Montgomery is the only person I ever wrote a fan letter to. And I got an autographed picture back (I still have it and it's a real signature to boot). I also saw her in the early 90's performing the play 'Love Letters' in a small theater in San Francisco. It was a thrill to see her in person. And yes, she was still great looking.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Karl Malden and 'The Streets'

I always dug TV shows filmed on location. There's something about shows produced away from the company town that gives them a flavor all their own. And I'm not talking about shows filmed in Canada that are supposed to be someplace else (like 'Smallville' which is supposed to be in the American mid-west). I mean shows where the location is part of the concept, like 'Hawaii Five-0' or 'Miami Vice'.

There's also 'road' shows like 'Route 66' and 'Movin' On' that have that same edge. Still another category is a sort of hybrid, like 'Northern Exposure' that was filmed near Seattle but was set in Alaska. And while 'Northern' doesn't qualify as a 'true' location show, I imagine filming in Alaska was next to impossible. But it does have that non-Hollywood production feel to it.

The original 'Hawaii Five-0' is probably the best of the bunch (I'm not a big fan of the new series, but it's okay). A close second is the 70's Quinn Martin series, 'The Streets of San Francisco'.

Watching 'Streets' now, I'm struck my how damn good Karl Malden is.

Malden came to Hollywood from Broadway, where he played Mitch in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. He won the Oscar for the same role in the movie version, and remained a close friend of Marlon Brando for the rest of their lives.

Part of 'The Group' of naturalistic actors, Malden's Mike Stone character is one of TV's best. I really believe that this guy grew up in a tough San Francisco neighborhood, that he loves the City, his job and his daughter. And that he lives and dies with every Giants baseball game (the show often ends with some light moment of Stone cringing over the latest Giants outcome or trying to score tickets).

Malden's co-star, Michael Douglas (who Stone constantly refers to a 'Buddy Boy'), is also good, but you can see the difference in commitment during simple 'exposition' scenes. Malden is always 'on' whereas Douglas is just mouthing the words.

Another great thing about 'Streets' for me personally, is that I lived and worked in the City since the late 80's. Seeing the 1970's San Francisco is a blast. It's amazing how quickly some things change. I actually saw an episode recently where you can see a skyscraper under construction that I later worked in.

And in interior scenes are really cool. Getting a look inside the homes and apartments is a blast. I just saw an interior that had a 'sparkling popcorn' ceiling. Remember those?

The first two seasons of 'Streets' on are DVD. Check it out, pilgrim.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cartwrights Without Adam

I was talking to an old pal who recently got hooked on TVLand's 'Bonanza' reruns. And like me, he noticed that his enjoyment of the show dramatically drops off after Pernell Roberts left.

There are some excellent post-Adam episodes. But for some reason, the TVLand package does not include the famous 'Lost Episodes', which have some of the best sans-Pernell scripts. But the show did lose some of it's appeal after he left, and I think answer to 'why' is clear if you ask yourself this simple question:

'Which Cartwright would you either want to be or want as a husband/boyfriend?'

I think the majority of people would answer 'Adam'. He was the most intelligent, the most grounded, he played guitar and read poetry, and was attractive in a manly way that 'Little' Joe wasn't. And while 'Bonanza' didn't have a 'star', they all shared equal time, status and billing, Pernell was the 'leading man' of the show.

So by taking away the character that most viewers either consciously or unconsciously fancied themselves as being (or being with) really damaged the show. And his 'replacement', Candy, while physically resembling Adam, was nothing like him. Candy was a simple ranch hand. An outsider without any depth.

Another unanticipated ramification of Roberts leaving was that it changed the Michael Landon character. He obviously would have 'grown-up' even if Pernell had stayed, but Landon had to fill the 'leading man' role. And the affect was that it made fun-loving 'Little' Joe seem kinda mean sometimes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Richard Harris

It's hard to imagine that for a few years in the late 60's/early 70's, Richard Harris was not only a big movie star, but had a hit record and was a sex symbol. At least my mom thought so.

But in 2012, looking at the cover of his Grammy nominated album A Tramp Shining (that included his mega hit, 'MacArthur Park'), it's hard to image the 40-year old, puffy, balding, red-faced bloke as being a 'sex symbol'. And check out the Lennonish sideburns!

Just when 'MacArtuhr Park' was topping the charts, Harris appeared on the 'Mike Douglas Show' for a week (Douglas had a neat tradition of having a co-host for an entire week. John and Yoko did in 1971). My mom watched every episode and so did I. Of course, 'all things British' were cool then. And the reason our moms liked him was that he was their age (40ish), sang well-written sad love songs, and made romantic/serious films (versus James Bond fare). He was a Brit they could be into. The gig as co-host of the Douglas show, the most middle-America talk show of the day, is proof enough.

Harris was riding high off of the film (and soundtrack LP) Camelot about a year before 'MacArthur Park' and he made two movies afterward that I really dug. Ironically, both westerns and both with the words 'A Man' in the title: A Man in the Wilderness and A Man Called Horse.

Harris made a few more albums with less and less success and his film work turned mediocre. Ten years after his heyday, he was making crap like The Wild Geese and Orca.

An interesting Beatles related fact: 'MacArthur Park' was the first #1 record with a running time over seven minutes. The Beatles 'Hey Jude', released just a few months later, was also over seven minutes and an even bigger hit.

Harris is an obscure footnote now. Probably better known for his role in the 'Harry Potter' films where he was just a brittle old man. It's not the way I want to remember him. Because for one brief shining moment in that great late 60's/early 70's era, when celebrities were a little more real, a little more earthy, he was a star!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

John and Yoko on Dick Cavett

Finally bought the Cavett 'John and Yoko' DVDs. My Christmas present to myself.

I've seen these a number of times before. I saw them when they were originally shown (I was a young teen) and taped them when VH1 showed them years ago. But like any good interview, you forget stuff and it's fun to watch them with Cavett's new intros.

There are three shows, two from September 1971 and one from May 1972. Forty years is a long time, but what strikes me is how 'grown-up' the show is compared to popular talk shows of today. It's really a dead format...that is, a talk show that is smart, funny, in-depth, silly, inquisitive, and Cavett has a killer band with drummer Bobby Rosengarden. In other words, it's not a one-note style. The talk shows today are either purely entertaining, like Letterman or Jimmy Falon, or informative, like Charlie Rose or CSPAN's Book-TV interviews.

Back in the 70's even Johnny Carson would sometimes get serious. Not a lot, but he would have on writers and politicians and let actors and musicians actually talk about issues of the day. Merv Griffin even more so. And of course there was 'Tomorrow' with the great Tom Snyder, who would have a wide range of guests from night to night.

These Cavett DVDs make me nostalgic for that kind of show. Cavett starts off with some jokes. Then he brings out John and Yoko and proceed to discuss a variety of topics including The Beatles, Women's Lib, American Indians and in-between the serious moments, they trade jokes and puns. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

They only perform songs on the third show. With Elephant's Memory they do 'Woman is the Nigger of the World' and 'We're all Water'. Both great underrated songs. And Elephant's Memory do a great job as back-up.

The biggest 'time warp' moments come when discussing Women's Lib; Cavett offers to light Yoko's cigarette which leads to the conversation. It's funny how the shows make me think we've regressed in everything EXCEPT women's place in society.

I think most of these interviews are on YouTube, but buy (they are pretty cheap) or Netflix them. I'd like to see Cavett release more and the more they sell the more they will put out.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Cee Lo Green 'Imagine' Lyrics

Apparently some people are upset with the lyric change Mr. Green made to 'Imagine' at a New Year's Eve broadcast. I have no idea who Cee Lo Green is (I think he has something to do with a reality show) but I think it's must ado about nothing.

If  you haven't heard the details, he changed the 'and no religion, too' line to 'and all religions true'.

First off, I truly believe that if John Lennon was alive, he could've cared less. Lennon flubbed and changed his lyrics all of the time when performing, so he obviously didn't hold them are sacred. He even changed the 'Imagine' lyrics from 'a brotherhood of man' to the mouth-full 'a brotherhood and sisterhood of man'.

Looking at the intention of the original lyric, I believe he 'imagined' a world where, if there was 'no religion', we would be focused on the here and now.

Like all intelligent people, he was suspect of organized religion, but that wasn't the point of the lyric. In 'Working Class Hero' and puts 'religion' in the same category as 'sex and TV' as something that keeps us 'doped'. In 'God', he says that 'God is a concept'. But I don't recall him ever saying in an interview that he was a full-blown atheist.

The 'Imagine' line was not meant as a jab. Besides, he believed in karma, which is no crazier than any other unprovable belief. He was spiritual guy. He believed in magic and astrology and numerology and meditation.

Like most of us, he believed in something. But it's personal. And it's a mystery. And if you had asked him 'do you think it's possible that all religions are true?', he would've said 'maybe'.