Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The speech of Tom Joad

USA Today's Pop Candy blog included a link to the Top 10 Movie speeches of all time. The page even includes youtube links to those speeches so you can judge for yourself. I agree with some of them (ie Samuel Jackson's path of the righteous man from Pulp Fiction), disagree with others (ie Ewen McGregor's Choose Life speech from Trainspotting) and am bored with others (ie Clint Eastwood's do you feel lucky speech from Dirty Harry). Plus I still wonder how Micheal Douglas' speech at the end of The American President isn't on that list.

Since the list only features one movie prior to the 70s, it really isn't all that impressive. Not that I am a big fan of old movies. J-Mac has been busy watching the new Turner Movie Channel and AMC which appears to be showing nothing but old movies lately. Sometimes I'll watch as Citizen Kane was on this morning. But sometimes, I'd rather not like when My Man Godfrey was on last night. I like to think I am a movie buff but sometimes old movies are filled with racism that may have been okay when originally filmed but watching it now, just makes me cringe. Plus, a lot of times, the secondary actors are sometimes really week. And really take away from the power of the movie.

Anyway, getting back to talking about movie speeches. Here is my personal top 5 movie speeches.

1. Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath

"I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where - wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too."

2. Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here. You just have to see them again...You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause, even if this room gets filled with lies like these; and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me.

3. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind

As God is my witness, as God is my witness, they're not going to lick me! I'm going to live through this, and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again - no, nor any of my folks! If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill, as God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.

4. Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now. Here's looking at you, kid.

5. Edward G. Robinson, Double Indemnity

Why, they've got 10 volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poisons, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth. Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from steamboats. But Mr. Norton, of all the cases on record, there's not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train.

With apologies to Ben Johnson's ode to a past love during the 1971 film The Last Picture Show. It probably would be in my top 5 but I tried to list only films made prior to 1970.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The beat goes on...

My apologies for not posting in a while. We have experienced a bit of a family tragedy. Then this past weekend, to get away from it all, myself, Tokyo Lola and J-Mac all went to Ottawa to enjoy Winterlude.

From a pop culture standpoint, my main focus has been on The Police. They opened the Grammy Awards by performing together for the first time in years. Unfortunately, they chose to play the song Roxanne. As much as I like Sting, he simply is unable to hit those same notes he did 30 years ago. I think Can't Stand Losing You or Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic would have been a better choice.

Despite Sting's shortcomings, the band sounded terrific. I was absolutely enamoured with Stewart Copeland's drumming. It brought up an interesting conversation between myself and Coglero while we were in Ottawa this past weekend. Who is the best drummer ever? And can anyone really answer that question accurately. Stewart Copeland, a drummer who uses more cymbals and high hats than anyone else in rock history is pretty innovative but how do you compare him to the workman like pounding of Max Weinberg. Or U2's Larry Mullen Jr. whose talents are really what gives U2 that distinctive sound. And what about The Beatles' Ringo Starr or the Stones' Charlie Watts. Neither of them are brilliant, but come on, these are the two most popular bands of the last 50 years. How can they not be considered among the best. Coglero's theory is that no one really knows the best drummers ever as it all depends on what bands you specifically like.

My Top 5 Drummer List

1. Keith Moon

2. Max Weinberg

3. Stewart Copeland

4. John Bonham

5. Phil Collins

This is obviously a rock list, otherwise jazz greats Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Philly Joe Jones would be on there.

Getting back to the Police, they are touring this summer and J-Mac and I had a mild interest in going. Our ticket gura Jayman was all over this issue and was going no matter what the cost. I was in as long as the tickets were $120 or less. J-Mac was in at $100. It didn't matter as top ticket prices were over $200. I can't agree to see any concert at that level. It just seems like there has to be things I can better spend my money on.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Living just enough for CITY-TV

Again, not too much time to write today. Just wanted to post footage of Peter Silverman of the Silverman Helps segment on CITY-TV news. He recently went to interview this optometrist named Adam Plimmer.

Plimmer had allegedly been charging for services and products that he had not delivered. Two of his clients had complained and Silverman, an ombudsman for CITY was investigating.

Silverman first went to see him days earlier and Plimmer refused to comment and advised Silverman to talk to his lawyer. Plimmer than called Silverman saying he had a change of heart and would like to talk.

The 75 year old Silverman showed up at his store and Plimmer went nuts. He slammed Silverman with the door and hit him with everything from paper to snowballs. The police came, he barracaded himself inside the store. The police had to forcefully remove him and he has been charged with assault and assault with a deadly weapon.

Luckily for the viewers, all of this was shot by Silverman's cameraman. The footage has been broadcast everywhere including CNN. It is absolutely riveting.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not much time today, just enough time to trash Wal-Mart

HOW BIG IS WAL-MART? .......... I was blown away by these mind-boggling statistics on Wal-Mart!

1. At Wal-Mart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the World.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only 15 years.
8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie).
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are SuperCenters; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.
11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store. (Earth's pop. is approximately 6.5 billion).
12. 90% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart.

Walmart, although a great success story of business that has brought cheaper goods to our homes, is also a symbol of America's decline.

Walmart does not make anything. It only sells items that are made in China. Walmart is our number one employer when at one time companies like General Motors, Bethlehem Steel and Westinghouse were our major employers. This shift shows that jobs have left our country for China. Look what is happening to General Motors and Ford. Americans now work for low paying Walmart jobs when their parents worked for high paying union jobs at industrial manufacturing companies that are now in China.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

And now...the second best part of the Super Bowl

For once, the Super Bowl commercials were not the best part of the game. That was the aforementioned half time show with Prince. The second best part, in my opinion, was the game itself. Coming a distant third was the commercials. Living in Canada, we missed most of the good ones. However, living in the internet age, we in Canada can see all of these commercials on-line after the fact. Having scanned through most of them on youtube, nothing really stood out to me.

There are lots of lists about the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. There is that Apple computer one from 1984 that ripped off George Orwell's novel and that coke commercial featuring the Osbornes and the Osmonds. However, my choice would be the series of Whassup ads for Budweiser. Look, I know saying "whassup" to people is now passe. It is in some pop culture purgatory due to overexposure like the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody because of overexposure due to the Wayne's World film.

The original Budweiser whassup ads still make me laugh. They were based on a short film by director Charles Stone III entitled True which featured him and his friends talking on the phone and saying "whassup" to each other. Stone has since gone on to direct films such as Drumline (pretty good) and Mr. 3000 (very bad). The whassup ads have developed a life on their own, being spoofed in films such as Scary Movie, computer geeks have created their own whassup ads featuring the same audio but using characters from Super Friends and Star Wars among others and there have been Scottish versions, New Jersey versions and senior citizen versions. People are now just sick of the concept. Please, here are the original five. Sit back and enjoy what was a very funny original concept that ended up being basterdized later.

5 Best Wassup Ads
1. The original

2. The Preppy version

3. The pizza guy version

4. With the girlfriend watching figure skating

5. At the Japanese restaurant

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Hope you didn't miss Prince's reign!

The most entertaining part of Super Bowl (other than Rex Grossman performance in the third quarter) was the half time show by Prince.

His show had been hyped for weeks. Here is a copy of a commercial for his appearance that is rather amusing.

During media day, Prince took the podium but instead of answering idiotic journalist's questions, he did three songs and left the stage. He started with a cover of Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Good. Then launched into the obscure anotherloverholenyohead off 1986's Parade than a song I didn't recognize which may mean it is off his upcoming album. Please, enjoy.

But that did nothing to prepare the public for what he did Sunday night. It's not enough to say it was entertaining. It's not enough to say it was the Greatest Performance in the history of Super Bowl half time shows. It was one of the greatest short concerts I have ever seen in my life. It was proof that the musical genius named Prince is back!!!

There was a little hint of Queen's We Will Rock You and then he launched into the first of three songs from his landmark album Purple Rain. Let's Go Crazy started off the festivities. A marching band stomped onto the field to the strains of 1999 and Prince started singing Baby I'm A Star which led to Proud Mary which led into a Jimi Hendrix-ized version of All Along The Watchtower. Then came a cover song I never would have guessed in a million years, the Foo Fighters' The Best Of You. For the finale, he played the appropriate closer Purple Rain. After that I couldn't talk the rest of the night. I was speechless. Please, I implore you, check it out.

Top 5 Prince songs
1. Let's Go Crazy
2. Sexy MF
3. Raspberry Beret
4. Little Red Corvette
5. Dirty Mind

Of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to Super Bowl half time shows is the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake debacle from two years ago. This performance should finally make people stop talking about it and will now be the standard that all Super Bowl performances should be judged by.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

('Til) Death Watch

Television always fascinates me. Good television? No, bad television, that's what fascinates me.

There is a show that I am sure none of you are watching called 'Til Death on FOX. It has been moved around all season, been threatened with cancellation but is still hanging on by its fingernails.

With apologies to Sean Burns of the Philadelphia Inquirer (who used a similar line to describe the film Smokin' Aces), the show feels like the worst show of 1992. It's a show that makes you feel like you are suffering from deja vu, even if you have never watched the show before in your life.

The concept of the show is that an older married couple with a college age student are living beside these young newlyweds. And it is about the dichotomy of this old couple who are rather settled in their ways and this young couple just starting out in marriage.

The older couple is played by Brad Garrett (you know him as the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond) and Joely Fisher (you know her as the best friend from the show Ellen and from the endless repeats on Canadian TV of the show Zoe Busick: Wild Card). Garrett uses his natural voice as opposed to that monotone he employed throughout Raymond's 9 year run. Fisher just looks bizarre on the show as the actress clearly just had a baby and her pudgy face and lactation endowed breasts are a rather large distraction. And not in the good way.

The younger couple played by Eddie Kay Thomas (you know him from the film American Pie) and Kat Foster (never heard of her). This is where the real problem with the show lies. Thomas' character and Garrett's character both work in a high school. Thomas' character has the last name of Woodcock. That's funny, once (barely). It is just a sign of desperation when that name is a joke at least once during every episode.

And all of the characters are just so earnest. Just trying so hard to sell you on the show. But in the end, the show's plots are just the boring, mundane stories of the wackiness of marriage. Storylines that have been covered since The Honeymooners was on the air in the 50s.

Garrett, originally a stand-up comic who has opened for the likes of Frank Sinatra, should be embarrassed. Originally, he was lined up to have his character from Raymond get his own show. However, CBS took to long to make the decision and most of the original Raymond writers found other work. I bet Garrett is wishing he had those writers now. Then again, if he did, every episode of 'Til Death would be about a meddling mother as that was clearly all the Raymond writers could write about.

Top 5 stale concepts that should no longer be used in sitcoms
1. A lead male and female and whether they are going to get romantically involved or not (see Cheers, Moonlighting, Ed)
2. A husand and wife where the husband is too fat and/or stupid while the wife is much younger, smarter and more attractive (see King of Queens, According to Jim)
3. People with low paying jobs but still living in houses or apartments way beyond their means (see Friends)
4. People who have a wacky neighbour (see Who's The Boss, Three's Company)
5. Families with with oh-so-precocious kids who are way too smart for their own good (see Family Ties, My Wife and Kids)