Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Neil Tennant

"But look at my hopes, look at my dreams,
The currency we've spent
I love you, you pay my rent"

Tennant is the singing half of the Pet Shop Boys. They have a vague taint of one-hit wonder status, and of "totally 80s," associated with them. Both of these are unfair. Pet Shop Boys continue to make great music, and have long delivered well beyond the promise of their debut Please (one of the first compact discs I got, along with my first compact disc player back in, I guess 1986). Personally I never liked "West End Girls" much (still don't)--it was "Opportunities" that got my attention, "Suburbia" that kept my attention, and "Love Comes Quickly" that sealed the deal.

Their 1990 album Behavior (now officially titled Behaviour worldwide) is an all-time favorite, which many of you probably already know. I was living in South Florida at the time, and managed to see the first night of the tour. I didn't expect much, and was blown away; as much spectacle as music. I saw it around the same time as Bowie's Sound + Vision and very much associate the 2 in the same space of creativity.

At that show, I think I heard my first official mash-up (I could be wrong and am prepared to issue a correction): they covered U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and merged it with Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." Annoyingly I can't embed, but you can check it out here. At some point they added "Always on My Mind" to the medley, but it's all hazy (maybe at that show?).

Their live sound isn't up to Bowie's level, but they have a quality. Here they are performing a medley (they are the perfect mega-mix band!) at a recent BRIT Awards when receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Music award, along with Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers (I told you he wants to be Lord Gaga).

They've lost their 4 Grammy nominations to Madonna, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Daft Punk. Ah well, they're releasing something new later this year. And there's always a shot at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with their 25th anniversary coming soon.

In 2004 they performed, with an orchestra, a new score written for the silent film classic Battleship Potemkin in a small number of shows. I'm curious how that came about.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite cynical love songs, "Rent."

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Chiwetel Ejiofor

Listen, I have no idea how to pronounce his names (either of them). But what I've seen of him, he's a pretty solid actor. I would say he's also something of a chameleon, but honestly that might just be me and my "not paying a lot of attention" thing. So he may or may not be something of a chameleon (and if he is, that's a good thing).

His 2005 movie Kinky Boots is one of those warm wacky British indie comedies (like The Full Monty). It's about a failing shoemaker that changes from making men's dress shoes to making fetish footwear, and is based on a true story. Ejiofor plays Lola, the drag queen we all wish we could be.

And Lola explains the difference between a drag queen and a transvestite for us: "A drag queen puts on a frock, looks like Kylie. A transvestite puts on a frock, looks like... Boris Yeltsin in lipstick. There, I said it."

If my likening it to The Full Monty gives you pause, Kinky Boots has nice layers of camp and cynicism to help you get through.

And this from his Wikipedia entry makes me happy: Ejiofor is considered one of the leading candidates to play T'Challa in the proposed Black Panther movie based on the Marvel comic books character.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Um, you get what you pay for dude

(h\t Salon)

This guy bought an "American flag" at a Dollar Tree store in Dallas and was shocked to discover that it has 61 stars. The Today 24 News article (here) claims that an ACTUAL American flag only has something like 50 stars, but how can they be sure?

The retailer said quite simply that it's not a flag it's a "patriotic banner," which I totally love. (Also, it's a fucking dollar and it's clearly a plastic table cloth, dumbass.)

But here's the money quote: “They need to correct this or at least get the Chinese supplier to correct this.”

God bless the USA.

Hey, here's an insane idea: for it to be an American flag, maybe it has to be MADE in this country. And I'm not talking about one of the territories that are kinda technically America but where we allow egregiously horrible slave labor conditions  to exist--if not a state, then DC. To be an American flag, it has to have been made in any of the 50 states or in DC, otherwise it's just a patriotic banner.

(PS, all the 61-star "flags" have since been destroyed, and by destroyed I hope hope hope they burned them and released the luscious aroma of freedom into the Dallas-Fort Worth skies.)

Song of the Day: "Late in the Afternoon"

I received an iTunes gift card this week, and paid for new music from some long-time favorites (Tracey Thorn, Paul Weller, and on a whim the David Byrne/Fatboy Slim collaboration). First up is Tracey Thorn's third solo album (her second since EBTG took what I hope is just a hiatus--I'm assuming that if she and Ben work independently then the other can watch the kids): Love and its Opposites.

This is the third track I've included as a SotD, and it hearkens back to Amplified Heart in some ways, layering a soft acoustic guitar sound over an icy drum machine--it's a tough one to embrace initially but I think it warms up quickly. It's a song to a long-time lover, about the simple fact of aging. In fact, this is an album about aging and some of the things that happen along the way. People change, feelings change, friends change, lots of references to seasons, which is in no way symbolic, right?

I was going to write about this album back on Thursday and I'm already glad I have been too busy (well, not about the busy part)--I'm appreciating the album more than its first listening, so I'll let it breathe some more and report back (I know you're dying to hear more of my opinions).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wow, maybe I am human after all

I just deleted a blog post because, after about 10 minutes I decided it was too venomous. I didn't even wait until I could save a copy for myself, used my pitiful iPhone on the shitty AT&T network and zapped it all.

That's still surprising me.

Mike Weinstein, he has been near black people, at least twice

Lots of enthusiasm and CHOREOGRAPHY in this campaign video, but don't expect Mike Weinstein to actually show up or anything. He's too busy holding black toddlers. Which is important.

Or sitting near black women.

Also important.

And if you are SO moved by this that you literally want to move to be able to vote for him, I believe Jacksonville FL will be your destination.

From the Queen of England to the hounds of hell

Jack White, I thought I was polite when I asked you to take some time off (here). But you didn't.


And now you're 35. But I can't stay mad at you, cause this song still rocks my world. I mean, you're not Beyonce (yet), but you're up there.

But seriously dude, like 3 months, you could stop for 3 months.

Happy Birthday Chris Cooper

You know what's great about Chris Cooper?


I don't know why I'm only now finding out that John Sayles's incredible Matewan is Cooper's film debut.

Sayles's Lone Star may be one of his best roles.

American Beauty seems the be the movie most people mention when I talk about him.

But his Oscar win came from the wonderfully chaotic Adaptation from the genius of Charlie Kaufman.

Oh yeah, and he got an Emmy nomination once, too.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Courtney Love and OJ Simpson

Why didn't we think of this sooner? She's single. He's single. They both had a way with their spouses.

She'll fuck anyone to stay famous. He likes white women.

Is this the most offensive post I've ever written?

And by the way, when you see Crystal Pepsi finally do some drag, it will be this song. Cause if Courtney can get through this 2 minutes and 40 seconds, I can too... and we need about the same amount of autotune.

Song of the Day: "Airplanes"

As you know, I am easily confused. So when I heard this song by "local natives" I figured it was a local Portland band (we have a lot, and some are even actually from here to boot). KNRK-FM has been featuring the song all week, so I have heard it possibly 3 times this week on the radio, and I probably only get 40 minutes a day listening to them at the most.

Turns out the local natives are a band called Local Natives from LA. And while the song maybe a little older than I like for a SotD, it's a great song. In fact, the arrangement (the whole instrumentation, probably the percussion specifically) is so addictive, that I'm really happy I heard it.
Local Natives - Airplanes by stndrdeviations

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I will continue to enjoy my Emmy powers

Previously (here) I gloated about my personal involvement in helping secure some of my favorites an Emmy nomination for this past season.

But I forgot that I also used my powers for evil (well, technically also for good) by denying the following performers nominations through my For Your Rejection campaigns (here and here):
  • Jenna Elfman (denied)
  • Brad Garrett (denied)
  • Joely Fisher (denied)
  • Jay Mohr (denied)
  • Paula Marshall (denied)
  • Charlie Sheen (denied)
  • Thomas Jane (denied)
  • Larry David (NOT DENIED... d'oh)
So close...

This isn't over, Larry David. It's not...

And yes, it's quite possible that most of those performers would not have been nominated without my efforts. But we can never know for certain, so I will claim at least part of the credit.

Or WHAT exactly?

I don't give a rat's ass about sports. Well, that's not entirely true--sports that include men in Speedos or singlets are okay with me, but don't expect me to speak knowledgeably about them. But I can appreciate the hype around LeBron James's announcement today--he's good at whatever sport it is he plays and he was able to get paid a triple shitload of money to do it as a free agent. That's America baby, enjoy it.

I got no beef with LeBron, and while I wouldn't recommend Cleveland, I also have issues with Miami. At least basketball season is generally during winter--oh, you know what, it's hot as fuck in Miami for like 10 months of the year, but dude can afford air conditioning so I'm sure he'll be fine. When you're wealthy, the seasons are a lot more pleasant regardless. (I'm guessing.)

This isn't about LeBron at all. It's about the reaction to LeBron's departure but the majority owner of the team he's leaving. The letter is here but here's my favorite part (but see the letter, it's in Simpsons font!):
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Wow, he took another job. Get the fuck over it dude.

But, here's my question, Mr. Guarantee: "or what?" What the fuck are you ACTUALLY willing to put up to the fans of your team? Seriously? What will you give them should you fail (however, cough, unlikely that might be)?

Will you give them their money back? If so, what money and how?

Will you give them the team? (By the way, I think it's a fucking injustice that municipalities are precluded from team ownership [except the Packers who are grandfathered in]--it seems to me that when cities bend over backwards to provide stadiums, maybe they should at least own 8% of the team, so when they leave the state, the city gets a little back. You might be surprised that I care since it's sports, but I've watched teams rip off many of my former cities of residence before and I don't care for it.)

I don't care how you plan to make it happen, or if you just plan to kill LeBron before he has a chance to make you owe, but I do want to know what EXACTLY you are putting up.

Or is it just weak-ass posturing from a dude who's really just hurting right now because, sniff, he was spurned for another?


I can respect a journalist who knows when to say "fuck"

If you don't know Matt Taibbi, he writes about politics and the economy for Rolling Stone. His articles on the financial meltdown and subsequent bailout (here and here) explained more for me than pretty much every other written or cable/broadcast source combined. And his article about John McCain is priceless (here).

His blog at Rolling Stone (here) is worth a regular visit. Today he has a post that contains a quick post-script related to the Michael Hastings/General McChrystal story that prompted my "fucking stenographers" post (here).

In an unrelated matter, I've gotten some letters from people asking me what I think about online reporters from the Washington Post and ABC using unnamed sources to make allegations against Rolling Stone that reporter Michael Hastings violated an off-the-record arrangement in the McChrystal story.

What I think: it's slimy. And political. In a situation like this, when someone from the military calls and says, "That reporter screwed us, lied to us," then insists that he doesn't want to put his name next to that allegation or offer any proof backing it up, that's the time when most reporters would hang up the phone. The only time you keep listening is if you want the Pentagon owing you a favor later on.

The basic rule of anonymous sources is that you don't let them make personal attacks unless you can independently verify the information. The fact that the Pentagon won't go on the record about this suggests to me that they know the truth — which is that nobody expressly told Hastings that any of those utterances were off the record. This stuff isn't brain surgery. If you don't tell a reporter that what you're saying is off the record, it's on the record.

This is all academic, anyway. The fact that all of these news organizations are trying to make a story out of Rolling Stone's journalistic ethics — it would be rotten even if it didn't involve anonymous sources. This is damage-control p.r. 101, reflexively attacking the reporter's ethics or accuracy when he publishes embarrassing information, and the fact that the Post and ABC are cooperating with the government in this effort is pretty shameful stuff. There was a time when no self-respecting journalist would go near something like this, but the definition of a self-respecting journalist has clearly evolved over the years.

"Sexx Laws"

It's also Beck's birthday, and the dude has managed some really fantastic music in the last 15+ years. But Mick Jagger would like his moves back...

Happy Birthday Anjelica Houston

A quick post for today's birthday (1 Oscar win, 2 more nominations; 6 Emmy nominations). I'm going for less obvious examples of her brilliance--here are 2.

Paul Rudnick's screenplay for Addams Family Values is funny as shit. But Houston gives it something special.

She is sexy as hell in the wonderful Manhattan Murder Mystery.

Prizzi's Honor, Enemies: A Love Story, Crimes & Misdemeanors, etc. The Grifters, shit, she's a great actress.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

You're welcome H. Jon Benjamin

I'm pretty sure it was my "for your consideration" push for you (here) that got you an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for Archer. I'll be expecting my gift basket, tomorrow is fine.

Actually Benjamin is literally the first nomination listed on the Emmy nominees list, so waking up to that made me really happy. In addition to Benjamin's basket (I meant his gift basket, but we can talk) I'm expecting flowers or something from all the folks at Modern Family (my campaign for them here), Mike O'Malley (campaign here), Neil Patrick Harris (here), Will Arnett (here), and Jim Parsons (here) as well, since I'm sure it was my humble blog that put you over the top. It takes a big man to admit he was right, and I am very big.

Sorry Patrick Warburton and Jan Hooks. I tried, but I guess I need to try harder. I'll send you leftovers from all my gift baskets.

Song of the Day: "Girls vs. Suits"

A quick congratulations to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the dudes who created How I Met Your Mother, for an Emmy nomination in the Original Music and Lyrics category, announced earlier this morning. It's no "Dick in a Box" or "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" but still, you'll get a gift bag!

The internet responds

"Who the fuck is Prince?"--the internet

Insulated utinsels

I'm getting blow-in insulation in the walls of my 100+ year old house.

Apparently the entire interior portion of this wall isn't completely a wall--not behind some of my kitchen drawers.

At least the knives will stay warm.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yes, let's make sure bigots get their say

According to CNN (here), the Pentagon is conducting a survey of troops to help them understand the potential impact of repealing "Don't Ask/Don't Tell." Which is just fucking awesome. Hopefully some of those questions will also ask about allowing girls to serve. Or negroes. Or, you know, Jews (like they would).


Here's the thing: nearly all of our military allies allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, so regardless of what the US does, its troops still serve among gays and lesbians as part of international forces. And if you are going to tell me Israel's and Germany's armies lack effectiveness, I am going to call you a fucking liar.

But here's a little recent history from the University of Houston's Digital History site (here) regarding the racial integration of the US military (cringe, that will NEVER work--troop morale, wah wah wah):
In February 1948, President Harry S. Truman directed the U.S. armed forces to desegregate as quickly as possible. In July, he issued Executive Order 9981 calling on the military to end racial discrimination. It would take several years - and another war - before the military actually ended segregation. Three factors would ultimately lead to integration: the growing recognition that segregation undercut the United States' moral stature during the Cold War; the need to reduce racial tensions within the military; and the manpower needs produced by the Korean war.

In February 1948, President Harry S. Truman directed the U.S. armed forces to desegregate as quickly as possible. In July, he issued Executive Order 9981 calling on the military to end racial discrimination. It would take several years - and another war - before the military actually ended segregation. Three factors would ultimately lead to integration: the growing recognition that segregation undercut the United States' moral stature during the Cold War; the need to reduce racial tensions within the military; and the manpower needs produced by the Korean war.

Oh, and it's probably worth mentioning that the US armed forces have discharged several experienced Arab linguists (at a time when their skills are so valued that the heterosexual linguists got insanely large raises to stay) because they were gay or lesbian. So, you know, fuck readiness.


Happy Birthday Shelley Duvall

I can't explain my fondness for Duvall; I like her a lot but I can't tell you why. I am not well versed in Robert Altman's movies, and her work in Nashville and 3 Women may be her most distinguished. Altman cast her in many movies including the seemingly perfect role of Olive Oyl in Popeye (apparently she hated being called that growing up, although I would think owning it with a large paycheck might give you some power over it, I can see her point). Never saw Popeye.

It's been forever since I saw The Shining and I was too young to appreciate Stanley Kubrick (which may still be true, because OMG I can't stay awake through the first 10 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey).

And I never watched her Showtime series Faerie Tale Theatre--all 6 seasons aired well before cable shows were eligible to compete for Emmys. In fact Duvall is surprisingly sparse in terms of EGOT credentials: 2 Emmy nominations, a lot of critical acclaim for 3 Women (which is nada in EGOT dollars), and that's about it. I'm actually a little surprised that she doesn't have a Grammy in the categories for recordings for kids.

So I'm typing and typing with no clear justification for why I'm selecting Duvall over, say, Vonda Shephard or Ringo Starr. Starr has Grammys AND an Oscar. But I went with Duvall. I like her a lot and it can't be solely based on Roxanne, can it (I fucking love that movie).

She is adorable in her scenes in Annie Hall.

And I will let her conclude with a song for size queens everywhere, "He's Large" from Popeye.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

A recap on songs of the day (June 2010)

Here are the songs of the day for June:

Kylie Minogue 'All the Lovers'
Doves 'Andalucia'
Muse 'Neutron Star Collision'
The Frontier Brothers 'You Should Start a Band'
Arcade Fire 'Month of May'
Broken Bells 'The Ghost Inside'
Levon Helm 'Growing Trade'
Son Volt 'Cocaine and Ashes'
Andy Bell with Perry Farrell 'Honey if you Love Him'
Delta Spirit 'Bushwick Blues'
Gorillaz 'Rhinestone Eyes'
Depreciation Guild 'My Chariot'
The National 'Anyone's Ghost'
Montego Glover 'Coloured Woman'
Sade 'The Moon and the Sun'
We Are Scientists 'Rules Don't Stop Me'
Mark Ronson 'Bang Bang Bang'
Casey Spooner 'Faye Dunaway'
The Drums 'I Felt Stupid'
Kelly Rowland and David Guetta 'Commander'
Macy Gray 'Lately'
Miike Snow 'Song for No One'
Princeton 'Shout it Out'
Chuck D 'Tear Down that Wall'
Ted Leo + The Pharmacists 'Bottled in Cork'
Weezer 'Represent'
Teenage Fanclub 'Baby Lee'
Interpol 'Lights'
Robyn 'Dancing on my Own'
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin 'Sink Let it Sway'

And here's what I really liked: Kylie, Doves, Delta Spirit, Sade, Macy Gray, Miike Snow, Ted Leo + the Pharmacists, Weezer (ironically), and SSLYBY

Song of the Day: "Saturday Sun"

If you mention the year 1986 to me, 3 albums leap into my head: The Housemartins London 0, Hull 4 (Eric heard them while shopping at J. Crew yesterday, which kinda sums up everything about everything these days, aside from the oil spill, the missing kid and Sarah Palin); The Smiths The Queen is Dead; and the first Crowded House album.

I loved Split Enz but didn't ever actually think of them enough to own any of their albums (they, along with Squeeze, The Pretenders and Elvis Costello and the Attractions anchor my "shoulda given more attention" file, but ultimately they have all been respected), so Crowded House gave them (let's be honest, this is about Neil Finn having an adequate support system) a fresh start and I didn't feel quite so behind. I think Crowded House might have grown into one of the biggest bands in the world had they not put "Chocolate Cake" on Woodface, but let's not dwell.

Let's embrace the new! "Saturday Sun" is the first single from Intriguer and you can download the MP3 free from Amazon (here). It opens a little muddy, but I think that makes Finn's pop vocal perfection a light in the darkness. It's a pretty good song and I can't imagine how it will get heard unless maybe the folks at Grey's Anatomy can work their magic and include it as the background to some montage.

PS to Grammy voters: remember how you bent over backwards to ensure the Steely Dan guys finally got Grammy justice after decades of neglect? Allow me to introduce to you the remarkable, and never-nominated, Crowded House.

Saturday Sun by crowdedhouse

A recap on songs of the day (May 2010)

Here's what I included as songs of the day back in May:
Hot Chip 'Thieves in the Night'
Earl Greyhound 'Ghost and the Witness'
The Superions 'Who Threw That Ham at Me?'
DEVO 'Fresh'
How to Destroy Angels 'A Drowning'
Trash Can Sinatras 'People'
Codeine Velvet Club 'Hollywood'
Broken Social Scene 'Forced to Love'
Spoon 'Who Makes Your Money'
The New Pornographers 'Crash Years'
Toni Braxton 'Yesterday'
Jaguar Love 'Polaroids and Red Wine'
Operator Please 'Back and Forth'
Cyndi Lauper and Tori Amos with David Byrne and Fatboy Slim 'Why Don't You Love Me'
Stars 'Fixed'
LCD Soundsystem 'You Wanted a Hit'
The Drums 'Best Friend'
Athlete 'Superhuman Touch'
Noisettes 'Ever Fallen in Love'
Scissor Sisters 'Fire with Fire'
Keane/K'naan 'Stop for a Minute'
Hole 'Pacific Coast Highway'
Beach House 'Lover of Mine'
Free Energy 'Light Love'
Kele 'Tenderoni'
Surfer Blood 'Twin Peaks'
The Black Keys 'Tighten Up'
Band of Horses 'Laredo'
Rogue Wave 'Solitary Gun'
BT 'Always'
Mumford & Sons 'The Cave'

And here's what I really liked: How to Destroy Angels, Codeine Velvet Club, Broken Social Scene, Spoon, The New Pornographers, Lauper/Amos with Byrne/Slim, Stars, Noisettes, Kele, Surfer Blood, The Black Keys, Band of Horses, Rogue Wave, and BT

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A recap on songs of the day (April 2010)

Here's what I included as songs of the day back in April:
Two Door Cinema Club 'Undercover Martin'
The Radio Department 'Heaven's On Fire'
Tegan and Sara 'On Directing'
Shout Out Louds 'Fall Hard'
Erykah Badu 'Window Seat'
The xx 'Islands'
The National 'Bloodbuzz Ohio'
Sea Wolf 'O Maria'
Lightspeed Champion 'Marlene'
Free Energy 'Bang Pop'
Bear Hands 'What a Drag'
Insane Clown Posse 'Miracles'
Tokyo Police Club 'Breakneck Speed'
Ted Leo + the Pharmacists 'The Mighty Sparrow'
k-os 'Uptown Girl'
Owen Pallet 'Lewis Takes Off His Shirt'
Gaslight Anthem 'American Slang'
Paul Weller 'No Tears to Cry'
Princeton 'Calypso Gold'
The Drums 'Let's Go Surfing'
Colin Farrell 'Gone Gone Gone'
Serena-Maneesh 'I Just Want to See Your Face'
Scouting for Girls 'This Ain't a Love Song'
Tracey Thorn 'Why Does the Wind?'
The Hold Steady 'Hurricane J'
Annie Lennox 'Universal Child'
Apples in Stereo 'Dance Floor'
Minus the Bear 'My Time'
The Magnetic Fields 'You Must be Out of Your Mind'
Eliza Doolittle 'Skinny Genes'

And here's what I really liked: Two Door Cinema Club, Shout Out Louds, Erykah Badu, The National, k-os, Paul Weller, Princeton, Serena-Maneesh, Tracey Thorn, Apples in Stereo, and Minus the Bear

Hooray for Brian Maupin

According to this article, dude who was kinda fired got officially unfired but may or may not return to work of his own accord (hell, maybe he can get a Shit My Dad Says type sitcom deal--also Shit My Dad Says is FUNNY AS HELL).

I'll let Maupin have the last word:
"Right now I’m planning on taking a leave of absence so I may survey my current career plans and the future. I’m not sure if it would be comfortable returning ... considering the circumstances, but I will definitely consider all options"

Stop it with the muthafucking fireworks already

Shit people, it is July 6th. It is a Tuesday goddamn night. Do you know how I feel finding my 10-year old dog cowering in the dank corner of my basement?

If I'd thought tonight was going to be as loud, I would have given her some pills and taken a few myself. Fuck.

Read this thing that guy I like wrote

Glenn Greenwald at Salon, on the hypocrisies of the Obama Administration ignoring myriad egregious sins, but going after, with full gusto, Bradley Manning, a whistle-blower whose sin is turning over proof that the US Army was covering up innocent deaths in Afghanistan. He didn't actually kill anyone, just provided evidence of the cover-up. From Glenn:
Manning is the second case of the Obama Administration going after a whistleblower in a matter of weeks. This is the same administration that said it would not investigate George W. Bush for his fucking war crimes (as you know, he's a fucking war criminal, and Dick Cheney is a war criminal AND a war profiteer) because it did not want to look backward.

Except for you whistleblowers. Suck it.

If you aren't aware of the Manning story, or of Wikileaks in general (here), turn off the World Cup! Shit.

Happy Birthday Geoffrey Rush

His EGOT credentials include the rare Triple Crown of Acting (the Emmy, Oscar, and Tony for acting as opposed to, well, not acting pretty much), but I want to focus on a role that didn't get him as much acclaim. I wasn't as taken with him in Shine as most (I'm sure winning the Oscar is sufficient solace for my lack of enthusiasm for that performance--he sleeps just fine), so my respect for him really began with Elizabeth (the 1998 film starring Cate Blanchett).

OKAY, goddamn it, I can't embed the trailer for the 1998 movie. Click here to watch it. If you haven't seen it, it's a fucking elegant movie--the art direction, the costumes, THE FABRICS ARE INCREDIBLE. So much went into this movie (I love its cinematography and its editing), and I have nothing but respect for director Shekhar Kapur (but not so much that I will ever learn his name, instead I call him "Tupac Shakur" which confuses the hell out of people) for making such an amazing movie. It picked up 7 Oscar nominations (winning only for Best Makeup) and Kapur was definitely robbed of a nomination for his direction.

Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes had roles in both Elizabeth and the big Oscar-winning period piece of the same year, Shakespeare in Love. Rush picked up a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for SiL, but won the Supporting Actor BAFTA for Elizabeth, which I think is not only his better work of the two, but some of the best acting that year.

I was really shaken with how familiar the movie felt. I am ill-informed on world history (me and Sarah Palin have that in common), so it wasn't that I somehow had read the story. It took me a while, possibly a few weeks to realize that Elizabeth and The Godfather have remarkably similar story arcs. And Rush plays a cross between Tom Hagen and Obi-Wan Kenobi (who was, technically, not in any of The Godfather movies, I know). By the way, I totally looked up, and went back to hyphenate the name Obi-Wan just now.

A few years later Rush turned in an exceptional performance in Quills. But if you haven't seen Elizabeth, add that to your library list.

It is a testament to a personal black hole of movies that I never saw 2007's continuation of the story, Elizabeth: The Golden Age which reunited Rush, Blanchett and Tupac Shakur. I totally suck.

But Geoffrey, he totally doesn't.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Crappy Birthday George W. Bush

Worst. President. Ever.

But don't take my word for it, Harper's (here) has a pretty nice graphic supporting my assertion.

Of course, I also contend that the Supreme Court ruling in Bush v. Gore was a travesty, and that Bush himself is a war criminal (in addition to his dereliction of duties while in the Air National Guard and his drinking problems--he sounded like he was drinking again during his last 2 years of office... trust me, I can hear a drunk).

So he's not just ineffectual, he's egregiously bad. He's harmed our country in significant and lasting ways.

Crappy birthday dude. Go fuck yourself.

Song of the Day: "Shape Up"

Dreamy dance pop from Swedish band Club 8.
  Club 8- "Shape Up" by greenshoelace

Monday, July 5, 2010

My new hero

(h\t Erica via Twitter)

The way I'm hearing it, someone made this FUCKING AWESOME VIDEO depicting what I'm sure is a pretty common experience for folks anywhere in the iPhone supply chain. According to the article (here), the creator of the video lost his job working for a major electronics retailer because of this. Which fucking sucks because he never mentions his company's name nor is he disclosing anything that could even remotely be construed as confidential. So Brian Maupin, my heart goes out to you. Here's hoping a good employment lawyer finds you very soon.

Now, the real question is, will this whole situation serve as a cautionary tale to me? Or will it merely remind me that Xtranormal has some really cool features.

But if Brian Maupin merely serves to inspire me to new, bitchier posts, expect them at a completely different blog. My coworkers already know about this one.

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

Today is songwriter Robbie Robertson's birthday, and I wanted to look at a truly classic rock song.

"You take what you need and you leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best"
I haven't seen The Last Waltz, Martin Scorcese's documentary about the last tour of The Band, and the more I read about that period for the group (somehow referring to The Band as the band seems weird) the more confused I get. Apparently Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson don't get along (or didn't a the time), and Helm stopped singing Robertson's songs after Robertson left the group. So while The Band kept going, The Last Waltz is still a musical event (or so I've read).

There is some dispute over the writing credits, but officially Robbie Robertson wrote it alone. The format of the song, its first person narrative, the chord progressions and time changes, have an importance to them. Perhaps because of the lyrics, or perhaps they give the lyrics more power--either way, it's interesting that I'm not alone in thinking the song was actually a traditional song from the 19th century.

Let's ease into this with a little Joan Baez, who took the song to its highest chart position (#3 in 1971) on The Muppet Show in 1980. It's sweet to see Baez having fun, but, um, who did her make-up?

I'd never heard Johnny Cash's cover until just now. I've got to admit I'm not feeling a lot of love for this version--perhaps because I find the piano arrangement so alien for his voice. Your mileage may vary.

Next up is Black Crowes: I like the fairly straight-forward way they embrace the song. Not bad at all, although I could do without Chris going so heavy on the Southern accent, his voice is great, he doesn't need to wear that much flair.

And finally, straight from The Last Waltz, the final performance of the song by The Band. Robertson left the band, but The Band continued; however, Levon Helm stopped singing the song, ergo its last performance by The Band. The Helm/Robertson rift continues, with Helm skipping The Band's induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame where Robertson performed with the rest of the guys. 

Happy birthday Robbie! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Call Me"

The Pipettes are a UK girl group whose current line-up is completely unique from its original line-up. It's kinda like if LeToya Luckett and Farrah Franklin were currently recording as Destiny's Child, but totally not like that since I don't know if any of the original Pipettes' fathers created the band. Anyway, now it's a sister act with Ani and Gwenno Saunders as the singers. It's the last day of Spring here in Portland (high today: 72; tomorrow around 90), so enjoy the fun pop!

Happy Birthday Shirley Knight

Leland has an idea for a documentary about those actors you know that you know, you just can't quite name. John has an uncanny ability to remember names, so this documentary would be of no interest to him. I was going to use the excellent Shirley Knight as a great example of this phenomenon, so I asked Clark if he knows who she is.

He said "What's Happening?" but I can't tell if he confused her with Shirley Hemphill (which is way off), or if he was asking a much more general question. So I was going to make my point that he should know her, since she played the aunt on True Blood.

EXCEPT SHE DIDN'T. Apparently I need to remedial version of this class since I've confused Shirley Knight with Lois Smith. Shirley Knight played Helen Hunt's mother in As Good As It Gets, while Lois Smith played Helen Hunt's aunt in Twister. Also I think they are both Ya Ya Sisters, so there's that.

Knight is a fantastic actor who has been working for more than 50 years. Her EGOT credentials include 2 Oscar nominations (Best Supporting Actress for both The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and Sweet Bird of Youth); a Tony win in 1976 (beating Meryl Streep) and another nomination 13 years ago (click here to see her acceptance speech); and 3 Emmy wins from her 8 total nominations. I checked and there's no Grammy win (yet), but again, that's what the Spoken Word categories are for.

I'm guessing folks today will either recognize her from AGAIG (her line here may actually have done a lot more for my view of dating than I previously realized):

Or from her recent Emmy-nominated turn on Desperate Housewives (a show I might need to reconsider, given the number of great guest actresses they are able to include on the show)--sorry I can't find a larger scene:

I think I first recall seeing her in the TV movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial, which is a surprise for me, since I almost never watch made-for-TV movies (not even the HBO ones like this). I'm sure the  Emmy wins helped, and maybe knowing that she tied for this Emmy with the wonderful Judy Davis (for Serving in Silence) prompted it. Ultimately McMartin is a great, frustrating movie, with a solid cast including James Woods (who I can't think of without a Family Guy aside) and Sada Thompson.

I'd say she picked up 2 Emmys that night, but technically the Guest Actress Emmy she won that year for NYPD Blue was awarded the week before at the Shmemmies (previously called the Technical Arts Emmys). I don't know if I watched NYPD Blue that season, but I recall seeing her on thirtysomething for which she won her first Emmy (she played either Michael's or Hope's mom, and delivered one of my all-time favorite lines: "L.A. Law is about to start"--I love it when shows reference other shows... hey, I never said all these posts would be insightful).

I can't find either of those Emmy-winning scenes, so I will leave you with clips from one of her 2 Oscar-nominated roles (and I haven't seen either of those movies).

OMG--a commercial for an episode of House with Shirley Knight JUST CAME ON TV! Awesome!

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Flashback: 16 years ago today

It was back on 4th of July weekend in 1994 that I made my first trip to Portland OR. I was living in Dallas TX at the time, and friend Rob (now "Philly Rob") accompanied me (and, to be honest, did all the actual planning, thus ensuring that the weekend included a lot of stuff seen and done, and not watching a Real World marathon in the hotel).

In fact, that 3-day trip is the blueprint for many of my suggestions for visitors. Except I'm less enthusiastic about the Saturday Market. It's just a little too crafty for my taste.

I'm struggling to remember the CDs Rob brought--it seems like Shawn Colvin, Morcheeba, and Tricky might have been in the sleeve. Bjork is a really good bet. [Okay, apparently I suck at this game: Colvin's Cover Girl didn't come out until August, and none of the other 3 had new releases around the time of the trip--with Rob it would need to be  a new release.] I do remember the second Seal album was a big part of the trip, so here's a track from that.

But here's the cool footnote to that trip that is ripped from today's headlines (not really)--our hotel, then called the Imperial, later a Best Western, is now a boutique hotel called Lucia. The same Lucia that VP Al Gore may or may not have insisted on a "second chakra release" from an unsuspecting massage therapist. It's like we were there when it happened! Except, you know, 12 years off.

As for the charges against Gore, I haven't spent any time evaluating the story, but Alex Pareene at Salon (here) has a pretty reasonable piece of why re-opening the case against Gore is probably a good step regardless. I'm not a huge fan of Pareene, so keep that in mind.

Happy Birthday Becki Newton

As Amanda on Ugly Betty she got to chew the scenery with over-the-top hilarity. But she's a great example of the wonderful casting that the Ugly Betty peeps did--check out this scene where Newton plays Betty's own private version of uglier Betty at her new job (first or second season, I think).

Her scenes with Bryan Batt near the series finale were fantastic (and sadly unavailable), but here's a nice montage.

I hope Becki doesn't go the way of Charisma Carpenter, a seemingly really talented and fun young actress who disappears after... hey, WTF happened to Carpenter anyway?

Newton stars in this Fall's Love Bites which is surprisingly NOT a vampire TV series. The show is from creator Cindy Chupack, whose credits include Sex and the City, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Coach, which are shows that I don't hate. So that's a plus. It will be on NBC... so there's that.

Happy birthday Becki! Rock on!

Notes on the Declaration of Independence

This is a Wordle of the text of the Declaration of Independence, adopted on this day back in 1776 (making the USA 234 years old today). (Click image to embiggen.)

The Wordle takes large amounts  of text and shows individual words or phrases (depending on how much pre-work you do--it was probably worth combining "British" and "Britain," for example) with their size adjusted up or down based on the frequency of mention. The strength of the Wordle is how to helps you infer themes or sentiments.

If you have no idea what the Declaration of Independence is about, "people" is the most common word. In the wake of the past year plus of "Tea Party" protests, it's worth noting that the word "taxes" (or its variants) and the word "tyranny" (and its variations) are pretty small, meaning they are used only a few times.

Here are the key sections. First, the preamble--who are we and why are we here?
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Second, natural rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. [END OF NATURAL RIGHTS]--Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
Let's pause for a minute to talk about equality. The Declaration states that "all men are created equal" but, considering the "framer's intent" (which is to say women were not able to vote, and the negroes were slaves) shouldn't only white heterosexual men be considered equal? If you think that's insane and/or archaic, just remember that when a politician implies that equal protection (a Constitutional thing, granted) doesn't apply to teh gayz because, you know, they weren't THINKING about them, tell them to shut the fuck up. Regardless of the circumstances in place 234 years ago, this country has moved slowly, but SLOWLY, toward applying these concepts to everyone. Even teh gayz. And Mitt Romney.

The other pause here is about the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, because the first of those is "life." I am a reluctant supporter of abortion rights; I think most who support abortion rights feel about the same way.  I rant about the failures of abstinence-only sex education  because they lead to more unwanted pregnancies, and more unwanted pregnancies lead to more abortions. I wasn't really intending to spend so much time on abortion here, but feel like I couldn't skip "life" to focus on the others, and I think it's fair to expect something. There are a lot of people who consider the more 1.5 million estimated abortions conducted daily in the US to be a form of genocide. I don't disagree completely. It's difficult these days to hold a nuanced opinion--let's revisit this one, because it deserves more of a discussion that doesn't involve people with misspelled signs yelling "murderer" at people who really don't feel they have options, despite what the strangers who are shouting at them might think.

Which leads us to the ideas of liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty is simple enough, right? It's, um, the, um... hey, what IS liberty anyway? Is it living just like the other families in your white suburb back in the 1950s? Is it not paying any of your income in taxes? Or is it the notion that everyone gets to live his/her own life (within a basic legal framework), even if that life really pisses you off? You may not agree or support with my unnatural love for show business awards trivia, but by God, you will respect my right to enjoy that, 24/7/365. Or YOU'RE the one who's not American.

The pursuit of happiness is also a personal thing. And I will use Loving v. Virginia to illustrate my case. Loving is a 1967 Supreme Court case that established that the state has no interest in preventing people of different races from marrying, providing they meet the general requirements set forth to get married (which is my way of preventing the "people will marry horses" argument that inevitably follows--the minute horses can enter into binding contracts, we can discuss this scenario).

Of course Loving effectively redefined marriage, which is INSANE, because, as you know, words, even those that have multiple functioning definitions, can only actually ever mean just one thing. Or so Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage (for Heterosexuals) would have us believe. According to Gallagher, "marriage" has only ever meant one man and one woman, so it must be limited to just one man and one woman. Except that assertion is a lie. The minute you look outside one's own, potentially limited, perspective, the minute one might find, huzzah, one man/many women. Or multiple men/multiple women. Or one man/one child bride. Or even one man/one person he abducts. So Gallagher's fundamental premise is flawed. And she's using her own biases to keep some people from pursuing their happiness.

Marriages used to be strictly about estate ownership, and churches were involved in marriages because churches provided a central structure for civil laws (while the government was focused on criminal laws). So different rules about marriage were in place and legal simultaneously because each religion had its own tenets.

Next up, the list of grievances, which sounds a lot like Festivus. The anti-Obama "Tea Party" protesters, who are TOTALLY NOT RACISTS, love to characterize Obama as the worst leader in American history. Which is not racism, it's just plain facts. Life under George W. Bush was textbook illustrations of how tax cuts equal jobs, how cronyism yields success, and how war is always the answer. And if Al Qaeda attacked America because they hate our freedom, then they must LOVE us know that those freedoms have been stripped away or at least compromised. Fucker (Bush, not Obama, although I don't have a lot of love for Obama who is probably more like Bush than McCain would have been).

Anyway, here are the grievances, beginning with the end of the natural rights section:
--Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. [Bush did this a lot--exempting his administration from laws via signing statements, and flat-out ignoring laws like FISA.]

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. [If you swap out judges with justice department officials selected specifically for party loyalty, you'll get this from Bush.]

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. [Department of Homeland Security anyone? Loss of habeas corpus anyone?]

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature. [Sadly, under Bush, there was only a fleeting moment when we weren't in a war.]

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power. [Pretty much.]

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation: [Rendition and torture, anyone?]

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states: [We move swiftly against ACORN, despite the fact that the video shown as an indictment was heavily edited, largely fabricated, and failed to include a number of instances of ACORN officials acting appropriately and reporting that dumbass to authorities--of course this is BORING, so it didn't get much coverage, yawn. But Blackwater/Xe? Still getting huge contracts.]

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent: [I will grant that Bush cut as many taxes as he possibly could, especially to the wealthy. Also, apparently, some people think any taxes are bad, so this is a clear hotbed issue.]

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury: [Habeas whatus?]

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses: [Rendition]
And finally, the conclusion (by the way, Wikipedia is down for a while, so I'm guessing that this is the conclusion, and not also some of the grievances):
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett [I grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia, named after Button (who never set foot in the county as he lived in Savannah until his early death--I was giddy to learn that a relatively obscure founding father actually has one of the most valuable autographs in the world)], Lyman Hall, George Walton

Happy 4th of July everybody. I'm enduring fireworks while the dogs are safe at the kennel. Turns out I hate fireworks just as much when Midge is away.

Some follow-up questions after my grocery store trip yesterday

1. Wheat Thins and security, what's the deal?

2. Who's Johnny, who died, and what have they tried?
Also I'm not journalist but the quotation marks in that article (article?) should mean something. But what, what could they mean?

Song of the Day: "Eclipse (All Yours)"

Sexy vampire angst music courtesy of Metric, from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack. With new music from Muse, Florence + the Machines, Sia and a duet of Beck with Bat for Lashes, this could be a great album. I'm 0 for 3 on the movies though...
01 - Metric - Eclipse (All Yours) by Galaa13

Happy Birthday Neil Simon

He's unabashedly one of my favorites. He is a little too sentimental for my modern tastes, but he predates that--I've been a fan since 10th grade, I think. I can't tell you what prompted me to check out a collection of his plays, but I distinctly remember laughing through Algebra II instead of paying attention; Star-Spangled Girl, I believe (which makes mentioning it today somewhat appropriate don't you think?).

As far as his movies go, I love Biloxi Blues (except for Penelope Anne Miller), Max Dugan Returns, nearly all of Chapter Two, a lot of Only When I Laugh, and about a third of California Suite. The Odd Couple is a classic.
Here are some clips:

Click here for Max Dugan Returns.

It's more difficult to share my enthusiasm for his plays, since I've only read them and not seen them produced. But I'll say Star-Spangled Girl, Plaza Suite, and Barefoot in the Park are all charming.

He's been nominated for 4 Emmys, and 4 Oscars; and won 3 of his 17 Tony nominations. And he's currently married to Elaine Joyce.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!