Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Rumours of Studio 60's inimment demise have NOT been greatly exaggerated. The internet is littered with bloggers and entertainment critics detailing how Studio 60 is moments away from death.

TV Barn, the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, the Seattle Times, Blogcritics magazine have all detailed that the show is about to be cancelled by NBC and Fox News even goes so far as to say that cast members have already confided to friends that they already know the end is near.

I find it interesting that this show is getting more press about being cancelled than any other show in the past five years. But that maybe more because this show is a real media insider type show and media insiders is what makes up bloggers and TV critics.

The news started off okay on Monday as apparently NBC has ordered three new scripts for Studio 60 taking it past their original 13 episode deal but that really doesn't mean all that much. As I get used to this news, I am able to think about where Studio 60 went wrong.

Top 5 reasons Studio 60 is going to fail.
1. Too much time spent on the Matt Albie (Matthew Perry)/Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulsen) relationship. If the show has a "jump the shark" moment, it is when Albie attempts to go see a girl in a group called the Bombshell Babies in order for her to sign a boot for him.

2. Too many scenes of the actual show within the show. The skits really aren't that funny.

3. The cast is just too large. Do we really need to have that many writers on staff when it seems that Perry's character is the only one who seems to do all the writing?

4. Guest stars are wasted. Sting, Felicity Huffman and Lauren Graham and with the exception of a funny scene where Perry's character gives her his number, these stars have been pretty much been doing nothing other than appear as wallpaper.

5. The first ten minutes of the pilot episode were some of the greatest moments in the history of television...yes, I honestly believe that. It hasn't come close to that level since.

Okay, I promise this will be the second last time I will write about Studio 60. Here are some funny clips that always make us laugh here at work. Hopefully it will keep your mind off my pathetic Studio 60 obsession.

First, the worst experience ever for a national anthem singer.

And second, Jim Everett attacking Jim Rome during a television interview.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Lost has officially lost me

To quote Kramer...I AM OUT!!! This piece of shit show has screwed with me for the last time. I was never one of those obsessive fans of the show. I have colleagues at work who live and die by the show. I was more of a casual observer. I watched it every week...sometimes flipping between that and some other show.

However, as this show appears to be one of the most popular on TV, I kept giving it a shot. It looks good and is well acted. But after this week, I am officially turning my back on it.

Spoiler warning if you did not see Oct. 25th's episode. Did anyone really believe that they inserted a pacemaker into Sawyer's chest? I mean really? The whole crux of the show was that you were supposed to believe "The Others" did that. Not a chance. And the final reveal at the end of the show. That they are on a second island right beside the original one. Come on! The islands are like 10 feet apart...you telling me not one character in the month they have been there actually never saw it????

Top 5 things I hate about Lost.
1. Nothing ever gets resolved. Questions never get answered...they just create more questions. Questions on top of questions until you forget earlier questions. The fact is, the producers have no clue what they are doing. All they are trying to do is make people continue to watch week after week. Frankly, I feel used and after this week...a little dirty and soiled from being subjected to that crap yet again. If this show is going to continue to jerk me off week after week, can they not at least buy me dinner once in a while.

2. The show moves at a snail's pace. There have been four episodes so far this season and we have no moved forward. They deal with the castaways who have been captured by the others and then they move on to the rest of the castaways. Back and forth, but the plot goes at a standstill. We don't learn anything. Yes these first two complaints are similar but if they fixed one of those two issues...it would help me enjoy the show.

3. Enough with the flashbacks! I don't care that this person has a coincidental relationship with this person's father. I don't care how their current storyline on the island is similar to something they had to do months before. These flashbacks stall the storyline. So combine this with my first and second issues...the storyline actually moves backwards week to week. Today, we are actually further behind then we were at the beginning of the season.

4. There are too many freaking characters!!!! I understand that Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sawyer (Josh Hollaway) and Jack (Matthew Fox) are the main characters but there are so many secondary characters that the show can never keep track of them. You can go weeks without favourite characters like the married Asian couple Sun-Hwa (see attached picture) and Jin-Soo speaking more than a word or two. And they keep introducing more...the tailies?...the Others?...and who was that guy hitting golf balls off the island this week. I have never seen him before in my life!!!!

5. Can they teach the actor who plays Sawyer a different look other than that sideways grimace through his greasy hair? It is getting boring.

Having said all this, the show The Nine that I was raving about weeks ago is also beginning to lose me. As opposed to Lost, it does actually move forward...but, not very quickly.

Speaking of Lost, here is a funny Monday Night Football commercial featuring some of the cast members from Lost.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Foxy political ad

This is going to be a blog entry about Michael J. Fox's new political ad. It is rather serious, so I am going to get the Top 5 list out of the way early.

Top 5 Michael J. Fox Movies
1. The American President
2. Doc Hollywood
3. Back To The Future II
4. Bright Lights, Big City
5. The Hard Way

Fox is currently in the news as he appears in a television campaign commercial for Claire McCaskill, the democratic candidate for the US Senate representing Missouri. The reason for his appearance is that he currently has Parkinson's Disease and has been an advocate for stem cell research in order to help find a cure. McCaskill is a proponent of increasing that research.

If you watch the ad, you can see that the symptoms have begun to really effect Fox quite dramatically.

The response to this ad has been swift. Ultra right-wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh during his radio show called it "shameless" and was "either of his medication or acting". Limbaugh then went on to say that Fox was "exaggerating the effects of the disease... He's moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act."

In his 2002 autobiography Lucky Man: A Memoir, Fox did admit that he did not take his medication prior to his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in 1998. "I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling."

Getting back to the 2006 ad for McCaskill...Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist, has stated her opinion, "Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease. Any other interpretation is misinformed."

McCaskill's opponent, imcumbent Republican senator Jim Talent already has a response ad to the Fox piece. These ads include appearances by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, and actors Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and, the piece de resistance, the actor who played Jesus in The Passion Of The Christ Jim Caviezel.

One final thought, the funny thing about Limbaugh's criticism of Fox is that he was pretty quiet was that he had nothing to say when Fox appeared in ads for Republican Senator Arlen Spector, a supporter of embryonic stem cell research.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How many more sleeps until 24 begins????

So the trailer for the new season of 24 is out and it looks fantastic.

I have to admit, I did not jump on the 24 bandwagon until after season 1 was finished. You have to understand, I am a baseball fan which means I watch the World Series on FOX. If FOX knows how to do one thing, it's promote its own product. So before the first season, during the World Series, we had to put up with endless promos. So much so, that even before the first episode, I was already sick of the show. Same thing with House, which goes to show how stupid I was, now I watch both shows religiously.

It was after season 1 of 24 that J-Mac and I borrowed the complete season on DVD from Jayman. Neither of us were all that enthused to watch it but late one night...we decided to watch the first episode. Four hours later, we were still watching it, completely enthralled.

We did the same for season 2 and I liked having to wait until the end of each season to watch them as opposed to watching an hour (with commercials) and then having to wait another week.
During season 3, everything changed as I started working at a television station. Everyone talked about the show and I could not avoid hearing what was happening every week. So I jumped on board to watch it on a weekly basis.

By this time, J-Mac had stopped watching the show but I still, to this day, watch it faithfully.

Top 5 Things I Like About 24
1. The programming of the show. Instead of beginning it in September and then having the shows sporadically aired throughout the season (taking time off for holidays and the MLB playoffs), it begins in January and runs straight through till June. Every week a new episode with no repeats. You have to like that kind of predictability. The fact that Lost doesn't do that is one of the reasons I no longer watch that show.

2. The shocking twists. Every season, all bets are off. Main characters die without mercy. At least half a dozen times a year, I literally gasp aloud when something absolutely crazy and unpredictable happens.

3. The cast turnover. With main characters dying and things like that, new characters are introduced all the time. For this upcoming season, James Cromwell, Regina King, Kal Penn, Rena Sofer, Harry Lennix and Peter MacNicol have all been added. Last year, additions like Jean Smart, Sean Astin, Julian Sands and Peter Weller proved pivotal to that season's success.

4. The acting of Kiefer Sutherland. I am not saying Kiefer is an acting genius. But he is perfectly cast as the put-upon Jack Bauer. He hangs that weary and beaten down look better than any other actor on the planet.

5. The underrated Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O'Brian. Is there a better written character on television? She is inappropriate, insincere and sarcastic. In other words, she is like people we all know we are forced to work with in real life. Her character grounds the show and gives it comic relief while still staying in context.

Thinking about 24 relieves my depression of the ongoing crisis that is Studio 60 On Sunset Strip. This week's episode was the strongest one since the pilot but still, not enough people are watching it. To make things worse, the similarly themed sitcom 30 Rock has started and people seem to be watching that a lot. To be honest, it is more jokey and less realistic than Studio 60 but it has a powerful comedic presence with Alec Baldwin. If he is on screen, I am watching it. Other than him, I don't think the show is very good. But, perhaps, I am just being bitter.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Shuffling off to Buffalo

So it was our annual trek down to Buffalo this past weekend. As I had written in previous blogs, for the first time, we made it an overnight trip by staying over in Niagara Falls the night before.

The biggest challenge leading up to the trip was to find an "old school" type restaurant within the city of Niagara Falls. The place has become a virtual Disneyland filled with chain restaurants.

The place I found (that was willing to take a reservation for 9 guys) was an Italian restaurant called Four Brothers. It wasn't too busy when we got there at 6 pm but practically lined up out the door by the time we left around 8 pm.

I have no complaints about the meal. I had some veal parmagian along with a side of lasagna. Imagine, two of your favourite meals of all time...on the SAME PLATE. Rickie B and Jayman were not as happy as they went with the strip steak. They have advised me that steaks are supposed to be good at Italian restaurants...I disagree...but I left them to their own devices. Their steaks were both pretty thin and a little overdone.

Sunday started early with a 7 am wake up call for the hotel for myself and my hotel roommate SW. We both were ready in time to meet the rest of the guys in the lobby for 7:30. After some coffee from Starbucks and a quick debate over crossing at Fort Erie as opposed to the Rainbow bridge, we were on our way.

Quick stop at the Duty Free for beer, ice and a Tim Horton's breakfast we headed down to Frank Wilson Stadium to start tailgating. As most of you know, last week, Buffalo was hit with their worst October snowfall in history. Power was still out in parts of the city and schools had shut down for the week. As we drove towards Orchard Park, where the stadium is located, the only evidence we say was downed trees along the highway and pilled tree debris in front of people houses. The drive, as always, is a depressing one. That area of Buffalo is mix of two colours, dirty brown and depressed green. The only building not of that colour palatte is this gaudy strip bar called 24 karat gold. The only reason we know it, other than the brilliant pink colour of the building is it comes up right before our turn off to the stadium.

Tailgating is an interesting phenomanon. I don't quite understand it. Football teams purposely open their parking lot up four to five hours before kick off. Let people park (for $15!) and people just BBQ, drink beer and hang out until game time. And you have to imagine, there are cars as far as they I can see.

Top 5 Most Interesting Things about tailgating.

1. The state of your blatter. The amount of washrooms considering the amount of people who are there is like the amount of lifeboats that were on the titanic. There were four port-a-potties near our cars and they were foul. And no matter what, there was a line-up of between 10 to 15 people each time you went. Depending on the state of foliage, you can sometimes relieve yourself in the trees but not this past Sunday.

To make things worse, some old man walked up to me and Rickie B while we were in lane questioning what was wrong with us for not being able to hold it in. Than these charming Buffalo Girls behind us started timing me while I was in there. Literally, I can hear these women yelling, "one, two, three..." Yeah, good times.

2. The elements. There is something about Buffalo. Literally, when we got there, it was 5 degrees colder than it had been in Niagara Falls. And it is less than an hour away! Elvis set up a make shift tarp with poles from a broom and a paint roller and a tarp that was connected from the back of his car to the back of SW's car. This is a picture of Skypilot helping set up.

3. The food. Apparently this is what tailgating is all about. I have included a picture of our tailgate neighbours who were having boiled lobster. It was enourmous. We were no slouches either as Elvis brought enough jerk spiced ribs to feed an army. AND, as an appetizer, we had park loin wrapped in bacon served on a bun. My first year tailgating, someone was barbecuing deer meat on a rusty barrel. I believe there is some kind of competition every year but none of us care about that.

4. The beer cans. It feels weird but you are supposed to throw your empty cans of beer on the ground. Throughout the time you are there drinking, homeless people come around and collect the cans. God forbid you have an imported beer or they refuse to pick it up. And if you crush the can, they yell at you because they can't cash it. It is an interesting reflection of society as we overeat and overdrink while throwing our cans on the ground to be picked up by others who are struggling for every nickle.

5. The tailgate past time activities. There are usually dozens of footballs being thrown around the parking lot. On top of that some form of horseshoes involving two balls on a string being thrown at a rack. There was even a marriage proposal at a car near us. All the sudden you heard this woman screaming while a crowd gathered to watch. Hmmm...not sure what they are going to tell their grandkids about that.


Friday, October 20, 2006

"I'll take famous titties for 400"

It is almost my favourite time of year on the game show Jeopardy. The time when they do Celebrity Jeopardy. It is a nice idea to see these actors out-of-character, risking their reputation and trying to win money for their favourite charity. But still, sometimes, these shows can be really entertaining.

Looking over the list of celebs for this go round, there is no obvious champs like Bob Costas or Jon Stewart. As well, there are no complete wastes of space like Ashton Kutcher or Rob Schneider.

This year the celebs are as follows:

When one thinks of Celebrity Jeopardy, thoughts must race to Saturday Night Live's version of Celebrity Jeopardy. It was always anchored by Will Farrell as an exasperated Alex Trebek and it always included Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery (the title of this blog entry is a reference to those skits). Here is one of those segments.

Top 5 Non-Bond Sean Connery Movies

1. The Untouchables

2. The Name Of The Rose

3. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

4. Outland

5. The Rock

People forget that Canada's own SCTV also had a version of this called Half Wits with Eugene Levy as an exasperated version of Alex Trabek. Also very funny.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

An anniversary they will not be celebrating in Boston

Coming up is the 20 year anniversary of the Bill Buckner error that cost the Boston Red Sox the World Series in 1986. It is easily one of the Top 5 worst moments in the history of that franchise.

Top 5 Worst Moments for the Red Sox
1. The sale of Babe Ruth by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee in 1920 so he could finance the play No, No, Nanette.

2. Bill Buckner muffs Mookie Wilson's ground ball in 1986 allowing the Mets to tie and eventually win Game 6 of the World Series.

3. New York Yankee Bucky Dent hits a three run home run off Mike Torrez in the 1978 AL East Division Championship to win the game for the Yanks and the division. What makes this worse is that Dent only ever hit 40 home runs in his 12 year career.

4. Aaron Boone hits a three run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship series that allows the Yankees to win that series.

5. In the mid-to-late 1940s, the Red Sox decided against signing any players who were black. Both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays even tried out for the team, however as detailed in Howard Bryant's book Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball In Boston, these were token tryouts and Red Sox management had no intention of signing them.

As important as #5 is there, really to me, the Red Sox curse was not The Curse of the Bambino, it was The Curse of The Brother as the Red Sox were the last Major League team to sign a black player.

But for the point of this blog entry, it's #2 that interests me. As I said, it is the 20 year anniversary of this event. Buckner continues to be one of the most hated men in the city of Boston. In this interview with Buckner from ESPN, he details exactly how this error has effected his life to this date.

Here is the video of this error. Yes, it goes through his legs, but the fact is, with Wilson running, Buckner playing deep behind first base with those fragile and aging knees and the fact that Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley does not run over to cover first. Even if Buckner catches the grounder, Wilson still is safe at first.

What has helped give this story legs, other than it being further proof for Boston fans of the Curse of the Bambino, is the type of batting glove Buckner is wearing. As this picture shows, aside from his Red Sox uniform, he is wearing a Chicago Cubs batting glove. The Chicago Cubs, the only team in Major League Baseball even more cursed than the Red Sox! Some people doubt the authenticity of this picture but Buckner was a former Cub from 1977 till 1984 and even won a batting championship for them in 1981.

One has to feel sorry for Buckner. He was one of the greatest contact hitters of his generation. He had a lifetime batting average of .289 and he had over 2700 hits while striking out only 453 times. But for the rest of his life, he will only be known by this one single play.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

RIP Townies

For some reason, I started thinking about this short-lived sitcom from 1996 called Townies.

This was meant as a comeback vehicle for Brat Pack movie star Molly Ringwald. It was about these three women who work in a small seaside fish restaurant in New England. As with all sitcoms, wackiness ensues.

However, like Lisa Bonet in A Different World, Molly Ringwald soon was overshadowed by her co-stars and the show ended a quick death.

15 episodes were shot, only 10 actually made it to air. What is fascinating about the show is the other cast members who launched their own careers after Townies ended. Lauren Graham who now stars in Gilmour Girls, Jenna Elfman who went on to some success with show Dharma & Greg, Eric McCormack who starred on Will & Grace and Ron Livingston who appeared in the films Swingers and Office Space.

Why am I writing about this? Was this some great show that got overlooked like Sports Night or Arrested Development? Actually no. I just found it interesting that so many people went on to fame after this show got cancelled. Plus, isn't Molly Ringwald someone that should be written about? She once represented a whole generation, now she is a punch line. Isn't her dancing during The Breakfast Club one of the most iconic moments of 80s film history (I say this while simultaneously searching youtube to see if they have that scene)? Don't you feel sad for her because she turned down the lead roles in both Pretty Woman AND Ghost?

Top 5 John Hughes Films
1. The Breakfast Club
2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
3. Planes, Trains And Automobiles
4. Sixteen Candles
5. She's Having A Baby


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Age: It`s strong and it`s sudden and it`s cruel sometimes, Vol. 2

So I spent my Friday night having drinks with some friend at Shoeless Joes. They have great wings, nothing more than that. One of these friends had recently celebrated his 40th birthday. I found this rather depressing as I remember this friend when he turned 21. We worked at a camp together and someone put up a sign in his cabin that had the words "Legal all over". This obviously referred to the fact that he was now of the age that he could legally drink in both Canada and the United States. I was 18 at the time, just on the cusp of the drinking age in Ontario and I thought this was both brilliant and awe inspiring. To be the age of 21, no longer a teenager, all that wisdom. Now that I am in my late 30s, I am still waiting for that wisdom.

Speaking of birthdays, Coglero is heading to Toronto next month. I invited him down as he is about to turn 30 years old. J-Mac has plans to take us all golfing at the 4 Seasons Golf Club in Pickering. Methinks the weekend will just be an excuse for some good food, good drinks and a Saturday night at The Rex on Queen Street to see some jazz. Rickie B and his wife are set to join us among others.


I had my first celebrity sighting on this blog. The author Chris Epting, who I wrote about earlier read my blog and sent the following link from youtube which promotes his upcoming road trip/album cover book.

Since Epting has also communicated with Jeopardy's Ken Jennings when Jennings wrote about his book on his blog, using the Kevin Bacon rule, I am two degrees away from the greatest champion on the greatest game show in television history. No worries, I will still remember all the little people as I make my way up the pop culture charts.

Top 5 Kevin Bacon Movies
1. Diner
2. JFK
3. A Few Good Men
4. The Big Picture
5. Mystic River
(apologies to Tremors, She's Having A Baby, The River Wild and Sleepers. No apologies for Hollow Man-he is the one who should apologize for that)

Epting's website is also pretty interesting with details of other books he has written. I will be heading to a book store this weekend as I need reading material for my own road trip on Saturday. As discussed earlier, me and the boys are heading down to Buffalo to see the Bills play the Patriots. We are arriving the night before and staying in Niagara Falls for some dinner at the Copacabana Steak House and some gambling at the casino.
Game day itself is Sunday and is always interesting. The Bills play in Orchard Park. Currently devestated by last week's snowstorm, we hope it is cleared up and snow free by Sunday. Meanwhile, I will be wearing long johns and polar teks to ensure warmth. You see, we just don't go to the game. We show up hours earlier to "tailgate". Elvis takes care of the food and we just drink in amongst thousands of the other Buffalo faithfull. My only concern is trying to go to the bathroom as little as possible (the facilities are awful) and to avoid getting in any altercations with anyone. With the exception of the one St. Patrick's Day I spent in an irish pub, I have never been in an environment so rife with people looking to get into a fight. And since my last fight was in grade 8, this would be a pretty silly endeavour. Luckily, the plucky SW (better known as the guy who calls people "Bitch") will be there and he will have all our backs. Pictures to be posted next week.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Cover To Cover

The art of the album cover has really died with the advent of the CD. They are now too small so really, all you know get are glamour shots of the performer. Not that I miss the sci-fi crap covers of Boston, Yes and Journey but certainly, they were a heck of a lot more interesting than what we are getting now.

Photographer/writer Chris Epting is about to release a book with pictures of where album covers were shot and how they look today. On his official website, he has a page with ten examples including David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and Bob Dylan's Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

I don't know if I could even come up with my top 5 album covers. Really, in the end, it never made a difference to me. It's not like I have ever listened to an album and said, "damn, the music sucks but the cover is so good it just doesn't matter."

The Scorpion's Lovedrive always made me laugh...even though I am not sure what it means.

Roxy Music's Country Life has that titilation factor, but again how does it sell the music. Though Country Life IS probably my least favourite of their albums.

Top 5 Roxy Music Songs
1. Street Life
2. Do The Strand
3. Virginia Plain
4. More Than This
5. Avalon

Speaking of album covers, youtube has this wacky new short featuring album covers fighting each other. It is pretty funny.

Speaking of records, Tower Records looks to be closing down in the US. I guess this is an example of technology really killing an industry. I remember as a teenager being fascinated by record stores. Always looking for good tapes at Cheapies down on Young Street. If I could find one I wanted for $7.99 or less, I was ecstatic.

But I don't know if it's a matter of being able to shop on-line, or that I could download songs or that I simply already own every CD I could want anyway…but I just don't go to music stores anymore.

It looks like in 5 years, the only record stores will either be huge conglamerates like HMV or little record stores where you can find obscure CD and albums like in High Fidelity. Speaking of High Fidelity…it is about to be made as a BROADWAY MUSICAL. Wow, just another reason why I hate musicals.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

My baby does the grind

So Quentin Tarantino has a new movie coming out. He is once again working with Robert Rodriguez in a movie called Grindhouse.

The two directors are not strangers to each other as they shared the directorial duties in the film From Dusk Till Dawn and Tarantino directed a scene in Rodriguez film Sin City.

If your like me, you have no idea what Grindhouse means. It is a term that refers to exploitation films. In other words, films that rely not on being of high standards but more on their ability to sell audiences on their sex or violent content. In other words, true B movies.

The term started with these theatres first showing sleazy burlesque shows featuring the "bump 'n grind". This evolved into referring to those theatres as grindhouse cinemas as they would grind out these B-movie pictures 24 hours a day. In the 80s, grindhouse became an obsolete term with the advent of home video.

For this Grindhouse movie, Tarantino and Rodriguez are each directed one smaller movie with trailers for fake movies put in between the two features.

Rodriguez's film will be a zombie flick called Planet Terror while Tarantino's film will be a slasher film called Death Proof. The rumour is that Kurt Russell has replaced Mickey Rourke in the lead role of the slasher named Stuntman Mike. Planet Terror's cast includes Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn and Rose McGowan.

Here is the teaser trailer for the flick. It seems really violent and pretty tasteless. It isn't being released until April 2007.

Top 5 Quentin Tarantino Movies
1. Pulp Fiction
2. Reservoir Dogs
3. Kill Bill Vol. 2
4. Jackie Brown
5. Kill Bill Vol. 1

Obviously, Pulp Fiction would be #1 on my list. That is a movie I can watch anytime and not be tired of it. For some reason, the scene where Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) go up to that apartment to retrieve a briefcase just kills me. They walk down the hallway talking about mundane things like foot messages and stand in front of the door of the apartment. They then decide they are too early and walk away. Meanwhile the camera stays in front of the door and films the two of them walking away from the door from a distance like the camera is pissed off at them for not going in. That just kills me for some reason. I remember drunkenly trying to explain this to Coglero one night so we ended up watching it at 2 in the morning just so he could see what I was talking about. Needless to say, we both ended up passing out before that fateful scene even happened.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

An old raincoat will never let you down, but Rod Stewart will

So I notice Rod Stewart has come out with a new CD. I guess the good news is that he has finally given up on that Great American Songbook quadrilogy. Do you realize he literally did four albums with a full orchestra of songs like It Had To Be You, They Can't Take That Away From Me and Someone To Watch over Me. All these jazz standards made famous by singers with much more pleasant voices than Stewart's senior citizen style warble that he currently employs.

I know my mom is a fan of the orchestration of these albums but I find them unlistenable. When I asked her for Xmas gift ideas last year, she mentioned volume three of this Great American Songbook. Unfortunately, I refused to purchase it on principle. Sorry Mom.

Anyway, the bad news with this new album is that of songs made famous by others during the time of Rod's career. The songs (along with the original artists) are as follows:

1. Have You Ever Seen The Rain (Creedance Clearwater Revival)
2. Fooled Around And Fell In Love (Alvin Bishop-thanks Stewby)
3. I'll Stand By You (The Pretenders)
4. Still The Same (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)
5. It's A Heartache (Bonnie Tyler)
6. Day After Day (Badfinger)
7. Missing You (John Waite)
8. Father & Son (Cat Stevens)
9. The Best Of My Love (The Eagles)
10. If Not For You (Bob Dylan)
11. Love Hurts (Nazareth)
12. Everything I Own (Bread)
13. Crazy Love (Van Morrison)

Tell me, you really want to hear Rod doing any of these songs? The silliest has to be him doing a version of It's A Heartache. Bonnie Tyler SOUNDS like Rod Stewart doing that song.

With every new album, I shake my head more and more at the career of Rod Stewart. In the late 60s/early 70s, he was (according to allmusic.com) rock's best interpretive singer. However, he became more concerned with hit singles as opposed to good music and has since become a joke.

My introduction to the greatness of early Rod Stewart was the album Every Picture Tells A Story. Everyone knows this because of the hit Maggie May, but the rest of it is just about as perfect as an album can get. The problem is that every forgets this side of Rod Stewart because of his massive hit songs from the late 70s like Tonight's The Night, Do Ya Think I'm Sexy and You're In My Heart. Any greatest hits album of his features these tracks along with Maggie May but to really like Rod Stewart, you need to look at his first three albums The Rod Stewart Album (also known as An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down), Gasoline Alley and the aforementioned Every Picture Tells A Story.

Aside from a desire for success over quality music along with the fact that Stewart stopped working with great musicians such as Jeff Beck and Ron Wood as well as Stewart stopping to write his own material has also added to the demise of his career.

If you want some good Rod Stewart with no filler, I recommend Rod Stewart Gold. It is really cheap and has two discs covering all of the material from his first four CDs including every song off Every Picture Tells A Story. It even has Handbags and Gladrags which is the theme song for the British series The Office.

Top 5 Rod Stewart songs
1. Every Picture Tells A Story
2. It's All Over Now
3. (I Know) I'm Losing You
4. An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down
5. Stay With Me (with The Faces)


Saturday, October 07, 2006

The last link to the Negro Leagues

Buck O'Neil, ex-Negro league baseball player and ambassador to those times has passed away at the age of 94.

Buck always said he became an overnight sensation in his 80s. This is certainly around the time I became aware of him as he was a large part of the Ken Burns documentary about the sport of Baseball.

O'Neil was one of the great baseball historians. He talked of seeing Babe Ruth hit home runs and Roger Clemens throw strikes. People would often ask him if he was bitter about the fact that the segregation of the Major Leagues prevented him from playing with white players. His response was always that it didn't matter to him anymore. He got to see all the great players play. From Josh Gibson to Ted Williams, Satchel Paige to Ichiro Suzuki.

By the time the Major Leagues was fully integrated, O'Neil was too old to play. He did however become a scout for the Chicago Cubs and, later, the Kansas City Royals.

He wrote a great book of his life in baseball called I Was Right On Time: My Journey From Negro Leagues to the Majors.

In the early 90s, he helped establish the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. THis place is a not-for-profit building set up solely to help keep the memory alive of the great history of that time in baseball. With O`Neil`s passing, I am seriously thinking of becoming a member. Just so my money can help keep the building going.

O`Neil even made the news earlier this summer when he signed a contract with the Kansas CIty T-Bones of the Northern League. He stepped up to the plate at the top of the first inning of the Northern League All-Star game and drew an intentional walk. He was then traded to the other team and drew an intentional walk in the bottom half of the inning. Yes it was all a marketing stunt...but still it was a nice moment and a great tribute.

Major League Baseball could have done the right thing as O`Neil was becoming more and more frail in the last couple of years. They could have elected him to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the arguments against it were that his numbers in the Negro Leagues were not that great. His lifetime batting average was only .288. In 2006, he literally fell ONE VOTE SHORT of being elected in by the Veterans Committe. When he found out that he had not been elected in this year, he said the following:

God's been good to me. They didn't think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That's the way they thought about it and that's the way it is, so we're going to live with that. Now, if I'm a Hall of Famer for you, that's all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don't weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful.

Now, it can only be done posthumously. It will probably occur next year, unfortunately, a little too late.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Dead TV show walking

The first new television show of the season to be cancelled is....Smith with Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen. I was looking forward to show before the season began. However, the show looks good but the storyline of this paper salesman leading a double life as a thief wasn't going to be something that was going to last. Ray Liotta's character did not seem to have any redeeming qualities and aren't we all tired of the thief that wants to retire but is forced to do another job because someone is forcing them. To be honest, the only thing I really liked about the show was the character of Jeff (played by Simon Baker). He was sadistic and surfer-cool at the same time. What makes this even more interesting is that the NY Post quoted Smith star Ray Liotta who is clearly unhappy.

"Some days I say, there's no fucking way I'm going to stay here. Between the hours, the speed you have to get [the episodes] done, the egos in volved . . . and it's not as collaborative as I thought it would be."

In other new TV show news, Kidnapped with Timothy Hutton and, sigh, Dana Delaney hasn't been cancelled. But it has been sent to purgatory. It will be moved to Saturday night to finish out it's 13 episode commitment. But that will be it. This show was also a disappointment as the first episode was just a retread of the Mel Gibson movie Ransom. Not a good start as it really felt like something that had been seen before. The other two episodes certainly looked good and the cast is great...but, i think television can only handle so many serialized type shows where you need to watch it every week.

Top 5 new shows I have been watching that are still on
1. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
2. The Nine
3. Jericho (though probably not for too much longer)
4. Shark (though it feels like a law version of House)
5. Men In Trees (i find this obvious hybrid of Northern Exposure and Sex & The City fascinating-like a train wreck)


Martin, Jack, Leo and Matt...oh my

I am not Irish, I don't like the band U2 and I have never read anything by James Joyce. However, I am really looking forward to this new movie directed by Martin Scorsese about the Irish mafia called The Departed.

The storyline is about two cops, one good, one bad who have infiltrated Boston's Irish mafia. The head of the mafia is played by Jack Nicholson.

For me, any movie directed by Martin Scorsese is an event. But for some reason, this specific movie looks absolutely incredible. A great cast including Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg. I kind of feel like Scorsese has been trying to hard with his last couple of movies The Aviator and Gangs of New York. Trying to hard? Trying for an Academy Award. With all due respect to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, Scorsese is the best director never to win a Best Director Academy Award.

Apparently, this new film The Departed harkens back to his great films like Taxi Driver, Mean Streets and Goodfellas.

Top 5 Martin Scorsese films
1. Goodfellas
2. Taxi Driver
3. The King Of Comedy
4. After Hours
5. The Color Of Money

The Departed is a not-very-faithful remake of the Honk Kong film Infernal Affairs. Ironically, Infernal Affairs is part of a three movie cycle that is similar to Taxi Driver. So it all makes sense.

To help promote the release of The Departed, Time Magazine interviewed Scorsese and the three main actors. The interview is quite interesting and I highly recommend it.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yes, but is it art?

I first found out about Claes Oldenburg's art on a trip to Cleveland last year. Most of Cleveland was filled with sculptures of artistic renderings of guitars in a public art project called Guitar Mania.

However, walking back to the hotel from an Indians-White Sox game, we walked through Willard Park and we saw the following sculpture. As you can see, it is a giant rubber stamp with the word "free" on it. What is this supposed to mean? That the Cleveland judicial system lets most criminals go free? Is this a statement of the US legal system post-OJ Simpson? Is it meant to be ironic?

The person who sculpted it, Claes Oldenburg is part of that Pop Art genre started by John McHale and made famous by Andy Warhol. Oldenburg's work tends to be very large reproductions of things that are much smaller like a broken button, a shattered dish...etc etc.

Here is a picture of my pal Elvis in front of the statue just so you can see the actual size of the thing. As I am taking this picture, he is yelling at all of us complaining about the stupidity of this art.

According to wikipedia, Oldenburg has jokingly been referred to as "the thinking man's Burt Reynolds". Is that term meant to be ironic? Since Burt Reynolds has really been in only one great movie, some decent movies and a whole lot of crap. What does a thinking man's Burt Reynolds even mean?

Top 5 Burt Reynolds films
1. Deliverance
2. The Longest Yard (the 1974 version)
3. Boogie Nights
4. Switching Channels
5. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask)


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Not that it matters BUT...

Can people please start watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip???? Why this show is not getting any ratings is beyond me. For me, even after only three shows, is must-see viewing on the level of shows like 24 and Prison Break.

However, it's ratings are on a downward spiral. Critics are lambasting it for being a virtual remake of Aaron Sorkin's own Sports Night (not sure how that is a bad thing) and for the actual show within the show not being very good. Like somehow shows like Full House and Who's The Boss which ran forever were somehow better. Or the fact that people continue to watch the show Lost even though the show's producers are clearly just messing with you.

Look, I am just bitter about this. I apologize...but I am telling you. This show is fabulous, with an amazing cast. But now that the ratings are dropping, they are going to start messing with the formula, adding a laugh track, wacky characters, make Matthew Perry's character more like his character from Friends...whatever happens, I blame this on YOU. You the person who doesn't believe me that this is a quality show.

Of course, this diatribe means nothing as US networks do not care what ratings their shows get here in Canada. Damn, now I am depressed.

Top 5 movies featuring actors from the TV show Friends.
1. Office Space (with Jennifer Aniston)
2. The Good Girl (with Jennifer Aniston)
3. Scream (with Courtney Cox)
4. The Opposite Of Sex (with Lisa Kudrow)
5. Lost In Space (with Matt LeBlanc)