Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Wim Wenders

He is beautiful and angular, and if he were a gas, he would be inert. I've written about Paris, Texas before (here), but apparently not about his 1987 masterpiece Wings of Desire (the German title translates as The Sky Over Berlin).

The movie was inspired by the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (which explains that unread copy among my books), and is 2 hours of angst and longing painted on the industrial backdrop of the walled era of Berlin. The cinematography has a primitive look to it, but that gives the movie an almost timeless feel. Or maybe that's the shit that I loved at 21--that Gothic longing.

The movie is among "The 100 Best Films in World Cinema" per Empire magazine this year. And birthday boy Wenders won Best Director at Cannes that year.

And it got 2 thumbs up from Siskel & Ebert.

The movie inspired the considerably different City of Angels, but don't hold that against it.

And happy birthday Wim! Rock on!

"Everyone was really tense, waiting down there"

I am not sure how birthday girl Sarah Brightman is best known. I first knew of her as a musical theatre actress/ex-wife of Andrew Lloyd Weber, but I think PBS watchers might know her more as an opera/classical music singer.

Back when Chris Wilson was managing a record store, he gave me a copy of her 1993 album Dive, a departure from the more traditional music she'd been doing. Its theme is water and its sound is totally that early/mid-90s sound of Enigma, Deep Forest, etc. In fact, I don't think I heard how much it sounds like Enigma until just now. It totally does, and that's okay. If you like Kate Bush or Jane Siberry, and you like Enigma, you won't hate this (unless you do on some principle). So enjoy.

Song of the Day: "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love"

I figured I'd knock this Usher (featuring Pitbull) track out really close to the NeYo track since I'm expecting to take shit, might as well get it all at once. This is from Versus, which is some kind of deluxe repackaging of Raymond vs. Raymond (but this song isn't on RvR). Lots of similarities to both the Enrique Iglesias track from a few weeks ago (both feature Pitbull) and the NeYo track yesterday.

I was listening through songs from Raymond vs. Raymond, which is described as having more mature themes (it's about a divorce, that makes for great albums), but it's all auto-tune or just blech. At least this track is a jam (yes, I called it a jam).

Oh that's right, the last throes

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney says, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

That was June 20, 2005. God damn Dick Cheney is evil and stupid and wrong wrong wrong! Of course, he's both a war criminal and a war profiteer, so maybe he's just evil.

"Wild girls and boys going out for a big time"

It was hot in Portland OR yesterday, well into the 90s. I'm not complaining* as we're coming out of a week of highs in the 70s, but it's part of the story.

Last night was The B-52s show at the Oregon Zoo (which I totally think they should call ZOOregon, but no one's asked me yet), and thanks to my genetic predisposition to procrastination (what, you think it's my own fault?) yesterday afternoon was the time I decided to start cleaning my bedroom.

Heat + cleaning + delay = me running behind for the zoo and meeting my peeps. I arrived 3 minutes ahead of the couple that had to take children for child care! I was beaten there by couples who have children, but also have on-site resources for child care, so I don't feel so bad.

But magically there was wine. And a good spot (love that venue for concerts, except it's crazy popular so when it's sold out you might be out of luck). (Click image to embiggen.)

And my peeps, half of whom are also coworkers, so it was the end of my vacation, and the beginning of "the weekend."

As far as G-rated ends to my vacation go, this one was pretty good. The band remains a solid show. They're called the best "party band" for a reason, and it's not their flawless musicality. It's just a good time, don't over think.

The highlight for me came around 8:40--the edge from the day's heat was off, dusk was on, and the band played "Deadbeat Club" from 1989's Cosmic Thing. The warmth from the day and from the second bottle of wine reached equilibrium and everything was alright.

Halfway through "Planet Clare" I did a quick cost/benefit analysis and decided to head for MAX, and couldn't have timed it better. I heard most of "Rock Lobster" leaving the park, and I was home with Taco Bell within 30 minutes (which means I caught MAX, rode 3 stops, found my car [I didn't actually pay attention when I grabbed a spot], jumped on the interstate, and made it through Taco Bell drive-through)--it was this magical hassle-free ride home. It's the simple things in life.

Now to finish my bedroom. Or maybe tomorrow.

* Any more than I complain about things generally.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I feel much better now

(h\t Clark)

Rear Window

It's also Alfred Hitchcock's birthday. I've probably seen 5 or 6 of his movies at most--I find Vertigo over-rated, North by Northwest falls apart when you get to "that house sitting on top of one of the country's most popular tourist destinations," and Rope is just gay (that's intentional, I'm being clever).

My favorite (of the ones I've seen) is Rear Window. It's a taut but fun thriller, and Thelma Ritter and Grace Kelly represent my ideal Hitchcock women as sidekick and romance, although I would have loved to see the roles reversed. I don't mean to belittle Eva Marie Saint or Kim Novack, but Grace Kelly in this movie, wow. And Thelma Ritter totally fucking rocks.

If I promise to watch 39 Steps this weekend, will you check this out from your library?

And here's the movie re-imagined as Three's Company.

Happy Birthday Jill

A friend for more than 25 years (wait, what, no, we're only like 32 and 33, so that can't be right), she's someone I don't talk to much, but that's how it goes these days. Once every 3 years, whether we need it or not (and it's not just Jill, it's nearly everyone I'm friends with from college).

Now here's a bunch of music she likes (I'm pretty sure). We'll start off with a tasty dish of a shirtless Michael Hutchence, with INXS at the US Festival in 1983.

I recently wrote about Winter Hours (here) and Jill mentioned her love for "Hyacinth Girl" specifically.

Back south to Australia with Hoodoo Gurus.

And while I think her interest in Skinny Puppy was work-related, why the fuck not? SKINNY PUPPY, ROCK THE FUCK ON!!!!

I would like extra credit for this one: Nirvana, covering KISS, with Jason Everman on guitar. Everman, by the way, served in Iraq and Afghanistan (so he would be eligible for the proposed "no taxes ever" plan I offered yesterday) and now studying at Columbia University. Or so Wikipedia leads me to believe (here)... in case you lost track.

It would totally rock to be able to sing this at karaoke, and make it sound even 1/2 as good as Cornell does--here's Soundgarden.

We watched the Grammys together for several years, and once Jill had guys from Trip Shakespeare over to watch with us. Since Dan Wilson went on to win a Grammy (with Dixie Chicks) as co-writer of "Not Ready to Make Nice," (an amazingly well composed song) we've watched the Grammys with a future Grammy winner. Unless he wasn't there, but that's the boring version of the story... so he was, and we did.

Speaking of Grammys, Soul Asylum did NOT win a Grammy for Best Rock Song for "Runaway Train" despite what Wikipedia says (here)--nominated but didn't win. As society's show business awards buzzkill, I will remedy that shortly (if I remember). Meanwhile, here's Soul Asylum covering Meat Loaf. You're welcome.

And finally, inspired by a Pet Shop Boys song, here's GnR "November Rain":

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! And, you know, every 3 years, whether we need it or not...

Happy Birthday Fidel Castro

Disclaimer: I have no love for Castro. His control of Cuba for over 50 years represents a practically monarchical reign, and the transfer of power to the only other person able to run the country (hey look, it's my brother) calls to mind my old adage "a little nepotism goes a long way."

But I love love love that he's such a fucking thorn in the side of America, because, fuck, we are the 2,000 pound gorilla and we can't quite always get our way. And, fuck, so close. So close. There are estimates of more than 600 attempts by the CIA to kill Castro. He's right there.

Regardless, one of these days the American embargo of Cuba WILL work. I'm SURE of it. Just a little bit longer. (Hey, have you ever wanted Cuban cigars and had a hard time finding them? Hey Canada. Hey Mexico. Hey cruise ship.) But it WILL work because, you know something something tax cuts embargo.

China: most favored nation trading status. Vietnam: US tourism destination. Russia: leading emerging market for US manufacturers. Cuba: lalalalala Ican'thearyou lalalalalala embargo. The former Prime Minister of Spain said Castro would lose control in under 3 months if the embargo were lifted. Lalalala Ican'thearyou lalalalalaembargo.

But hey, you want American inconsistency? We hate them immigrants, UNLESS THEY ARE FROM CUBA! If from Cuba, score! C'mon down, here's a green card. (NOTE: Cubans vote Republican, so why NOT rapid track them to citizenship, duh?)

And don't get me started on Elian Gonzalez. Why can't any politicians have some consistency in their "family values?"

Oh, but speaking of nepotism, 2 of our most staunchly anti-Castro Congressmen and actually related to Castro! They're both nephews (by marriage, his first wife): Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The Diaz-Balarts are old Cuban money, and if you spend any time in Miami, you'll know that surname. I'm sure they LOVE having Castro in power, because it ensures their re-election.

And finally, Perez Hilton (here), declaring Castro dead in 2007. Wonder if he still stands by that story.

Anyway, here's a video of a cute puppy.

HBDRO (to get that out of the way)--hey dude, maybe some other everyman in Cuba could assume a little power. Just saying.

Song of the Day: "Beautiful Monster"

I might get some shit for something this mainstream, but it's a great good fucking single, even if he's not actually singing "beautiful Mazda" in the chorus.

I don't know NeYo from Chris Brown from Pharrell Williams from Maxwell from recent Usher (I know old Usher, he was a BMG artist) from, you know, some of those other young "blacks."

But Billy Squier I know!

It's from NeYo's Libra Scale album (out Oct. 5th) which is supposedly a concept album (and possibly video collection) that deals with "a story questioning morality and both sides of the Libra Scale: the decision between money, fame, power and love."

And NOT, as I previously thought, a beautiful Mazda car.

Enjoy the jam and don't over think.

It's a Mazda, a beautiful Mazda...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We heart the Constitution... except when we don't

[UPDATE: Meanwhile, Digby covers Cantor the whiner nicely here as well.]

In the on-going battle of Republicans vs. the Constitution AS IT'S WRITTEN (they have no problem with the constantly revising Constitution that doesn't allow shit they disagree with), Rep. Eric Cantor (R, VA) whines about how he knows there's freedom of religion and all "... but c'mon." See you can HAVE freedom of religion, but not if you're actually going to use it to practice, and NOT in my neighborhood.

This is totally about a Mosque, so you know, why not.

When it gets to be about a Synagogue, you won't be able to get him to shut the fuck up with all his whining. And he IS the biggest whiner in Congress. "Boo hoo, Nancy Pelosi was all mean to us, boo hoo." Good job Cantor.

"...but c'mon." God bless the USA.

Now where is my lapel pin?

At least no one was hurt or offended

I was out running errands yesterday, and at one of my stops, at a local establishment (look, if I say "porn store" someone might ask what I obtained, so let's just call it an establishment) I heard Billy Squier's "My Kinda Lover" on their in-store music thingy. And since I'd heard Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" about 20 minutes earlier at a different (non-porn) establishment, I felt compelled to comment.

So I said to clerk at store #2 (because at store #1 we had not yet established a pattern on which to comment) "this is the second time I've heard Billy Squier in less than an hour."

And here's where the story get's weird (if you were hoping for "interesting," wrong blog): the clerk stopped what he was doing and looked at me and said "it's really funny that you just said who this is."

Normally this is the point in a conversation when I discover that I've accidentally commented on the reason a parent is serving 8 years in Federal prison, or how their fiance was killed, or which class action lawsuit(s) someone is participating in, or how their pet lost its leg. A bartender can ignore me for 20 minutes, but if I say a name like "Heidi" then BAM, he wants to know when that fucking bitch was talking to me. It's fun except when I end up listening to someone's story, then it's just tedious (unlike my blog, which is a joy for you to read, admit it).

Back to clerk at store #2. "It's really funny that you just said who this is. I think no one knows him and he doesn't get enough airplay, so I was about to say to you if you can name this singer, I'd give you half off your purchase price."

By the way, thing number 2 that I have is insanely bad timing.

So I missed out on 50% off my purchase that I shall not describe.

Except I didn't. See, dude told me he was going to say it, and he was glad he didn't since he couldn't actually do anything like that. He just figured I wouldn't know.

Can you believe that? Someone would look at my face and think "he doesn't know Billy Squier." That's just fucking racist.

Or something.

Anyway, a post about Billy Squier at the porn store (Billy Squier's MUSIC playing at the porn store). Happy Thursday.

Data visualization in action

(h\t Dem From CT at DailyKos)

The esteemed Nate Silver (here) created a graphic displaying support/opposition to same sex marriage over time. (Click image to embiggen.)

Does that look like a penis to anyone else? (Yes, I am juvenile.)

Also, while it's great that society appears to be accepting of same sex marriage, this is irrelevant since rights aren't granted based on popularity.

Still, penis.

An alternative to the Bush tax cuts

As you know, I totally oppose renewing the TEMPORARY George W. Bush (war criminal) tax cuts.

Republicans, who only care about demolishing the deficit*, of course want to renew these tax cuts because something something tax cuts. Letting them expire would reduce the deficit by $300,000,000,000. Three hundred BILLION dollars. We HATE the deficit, but not if it means inconveniencing the wealthiest 2% of Americans with tax rates close to what they had under Reagan.

Anywho, I have an alternative. I'm okay with keeping the $300 BILLION we'd otherwise reduce the deficit if they consider this alternative: no taxes for anyone who served in active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. Ever again. And the wealthiest Americans pay the same tax rate they would have paid under Reagan. It actually costs the US less than renewing the TEMPORARY Bush (wc) tax cuts (I'm guessing--but sans facts works on FOX so I'm using that here too).

* Republicans don't actually give a rat's ass about the deficit, they simply oppose it today out of convenience.

Happy Birthday John Cazale

Cazale died back in 1978 at age 42, from bone cancer. He left behind a fiance named Meryl Streep and a legacy of performances in only 5 feature films.

All 5 of those movies were nominated for Best Picture: The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter.

And since archival footage of him was also used in The Godfather Part III,  technically he's 6 for 6.

It's easy to trivialize his work as Fredo--he's up with incredible talents like Brando, Pacino and Duvall (oh, and James Caan is in the movie too). Fredo exudes a loser-ness that I think takes time to appreciate. It's the sadness of a man completely out of place doing what's expected of him, and frustrated that his brothers are so at ease in the same role.

He's the subject of a 2008 documentary, I Knew It Was You which I will look for from the library. [UPDATE: It aired on HBO back in June and is not currently scheduled to air again, according to my converter box. Oscilloscope will be releasing it on DVD for this holiday season ("Dear Santa...").]

Happy birthday dude! Rest in peace.

"Look my eyes are just holograms"

We played birthday girl Tanita Tikaram's first album Ancient Heart way back when, when I was working in college radio. She's never had much success in the US, but in the UK she's charted 9 singles.

I think her 1995 album Lovers in the City, a collaboration with composer Thomas Newman, is probably her best, but today I'm focusing on her song "Twist In My Sobriety"--a top 40 single in the UK, and on the US Modern Rock chart back in 1988. Why, you might ask?


Because that's the only song of hers ever covered by Liza! (so far)

And god damn it is a train wreck! Further commentary from me is unneeded when I can do this:

And just to be perfectly clear, this version by Liza Minelli came out the same year as Faith No More's "Epic" so I think it's just as legitimate to say "Faith No More stole Liza's sound" as it is the other way around (for that intro).

It's a nice, moody track, but I really don't get the variety of covers that have been recorded. Also it was included in a pivotal scene in the movie Bandits, or so I've read, as I walked out of that shitty shitty movie (she couldn't decide).

Here's a 1999 cover by Chyi Yu who is a person of some sort--seems pretty faithful to the non-Liza version.

And in 2007 electronic music dude Les Adams covered it "featuring Alexis" (sadly neither Alexis Bledel nor Alexis Carrington).

Which brings us back to 1988, and her appearance on Top of the Pops. Why don't we have shows where musicians lip sync and have fog machines anymore? Oh wait, Super Bowl Halftime, never mind.

Happy birthday dude! Keep cashing those publishing checks!

Song of the Day: "I Can't Get Enough"

First time I heard this, I thought it was the Radio Dept. "Heaven's on Fire" then I realized it was actually Weezer. Then I realized I had been wrong twice! In under 1 minute! Amazing.

It's Rooney, and I'm sure comparisons with Weezer have nothing whatsoever to do with any A&R guy at their record label trying to get them into a more "radio-friendly" space. None at all.

Although mission: accomplished, as I heard this on the radio. And I used Shazam (while driving, shhhh--texting and non-hands-free calling are both explicitly illegal, but not using apps) to identify this. When they create a Nobel Prize for Apps, Shazam needs to get a retroactive award.
  I Can't Get Enough - Rooney by gyynnej

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


(h\t Alex Pareene at Salon)

According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 5 applicants for every job opening posted in the month of June 2010. So clearly people are out of work only because they're lazy and not because there are not nearly enough jobs created by all those tax cuts to actually employ people.

Hey, here's a graphic that shows how awesome Bill Clinton was:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics from NY Times

See there before the war criminal George W. Bush assumed the Presidency, there was an insane 1 applicant per job opening (even I agree that's not a great situation for business). Unprecedented peace and prosperity thanks to Bill Clinton.

And then George W. Bush ruined everything. Also we're still in 2 wars, in case you forgot.

"I won't let you let me down so easily"

It's also Death Cab For Cutie front man Ben Gibbard's birthday today. "I Will Possess Your Heart" is a recent enough hit that you have probably heard it on the radio in the past month. But I'm posting it anyway, because the way the song builds still amazes me, 2+ years after hearing it.

Happy Birthday Joe Jackson

Joe is hard to explain except to say that he's constantly exploring new genres of music (from punk/new wave to power pop to swing to jazz to big band to Gershwinesque piano pop to classical (he actually won a Grammy in the Pop Instrumental Album category for Symphony No. 1 in 2000) to... well, I think I've lost track. He recorded a live album here in Portland (which I haven't heard) and he's living in Berlin now, possibly as a tranny. That might just be a rumor, I honestly don't know either way.

But I do know the man is a fucking genius, and I'm letting his music speak for him (which, technically, is kinda what music does).

First up, "You Can't Get What You Want ('Til You Know What You Want)"--this is the only song I've ever used as a ring tone (aside from the Charlie's Angels theme, which I totally stole from John).

And I wrap things up with one of his non-hits, but a song I've loved since I first heard it.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on! Possibly in a frock.

Happy Birthday Eric

Here are a bunch of songs he likes... probably.

[NOTE: I am consciously avoiding Oasis.]

What, it's "for the girls."

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Solitude is Bliss"

(h\t Leland)

Tame Impala from their debut InnerSpeaker.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Rosanna Arquette

Two quick things in honor of her birthday. First, as an actress she never really did it for me (Pulp Fiction and After Hours aside), but as a director, her documentary Searching for Debra Winger was smart and interesting and engaging. And a little ironic, considering the age thing didn't seem to bother her until she was affected by it, but whatever. Here's hoping she does more.

"Not quite a year since you went away"
As the inspiration for Toto's "Rosanna" she's part of musical history. You can't tell me you didn't love this song at one point. Unless you weren't born when it came out, in which case, trust me, you would have.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Super Friends

(h\t to Leeland)

Songs of the Day: "Northern Skies" & "To the Brink"

The last of the Mercury Music Prize shortlines, I Am Kloot hail from Manchester, and Sky at Night is their 7th album. It's produced by a couple of the guys from Elbow, who I always confused with Doves, and apparently these guys sort of shore-up those 2 in terms of the recent Manchester sound. So I feel vindicated in not paying close attention.

The music for "Northern Skies" sounds like something from the 70s, something very specific. Figure out what and post in comments, please. Also, love it.

"To the Brink" is more plaintive, but there's something there. I'll dig in deeper with these guys soon. Look for a recap later this week (I know, you're eager)...

My Open Letter to Steven Slater

(The jetblue flight attendant)

I understand.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm actually kinda proud of this

So I'm preserving it here.

Angel of the morning

I don't know that Gracie adores me any more than Rebel did, but at least she's not camera shy.

Robert Reich on the jobs emergency

(h\t Salon)

"With the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression worsening, you might expect emergency action out of Washington. But the biggest upcoming debate there is whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent, or for everyone, or for no one. This is like debating whether to get a mousetrap when your home is sinking in quicksand."

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, has a sense of urgency about the economy that I appreciate. He's got a post at his blog (here) that, while brief, brings forward 3 good ideas. Go there to read them--it's a short article.

5 minutes with Glenn Beck was all I could take

My vacation is rolling into its second week. After the dog park/Home Depot run today (hey, Clark needs paint), I watched a little Beck while I had lunch. Beck is currently obsessed with the writings of Obama's birth father, a Socialist AND an Anti-Colonialist.

Anti-Colonialist!!!!!! Can you believe it?! Who the fuck does he think he is? George Washington? John Adams? Thomas Jefferson? (All Anti-Colonialists.)

Amen Brother Glenn! You speak the truth! (And your use of innuendo is beautiful.)

And then, in holding up a giant thing of papers (presumably a print out of one of Obama's father's writings) he said "this reads just like the Soviet Constitution."

Which prompts me to ask Glenn Beck these questions:
  • When did YOU read the Soviet Constitution?
  • Was it in English or Russian?
  • About how long did you spend reading the Soviet Constitution?
  • Cite 3 examples where the 2 pieces show similarities--or are you saying "black ink on white paper"? Because if that's the case, a whole bunch of shit reads like the Soviet Constitution.

Seriously, who believes this guy?

What's worse: the lazy unemployed or the insanely high taxes?

Would you rather be shot or hung?

Alex Pareene at Salon (here) has a great summary of today's Wall Street Journal on unemployment:
What could cause that? Economists point to a couple factors. The one Journal readers like the most is probably the claim that the extension of jobless benefits to 99 weeks has made people lazy. There is also the real-estate collapse, which has made underwater homeowners an extremely non-mobile workforce. And, hey, it also turns out that the devastation of America's middle class in a generation-long union-busting race-to-the-bottom might have something to do with certain companies being unable to attract applicants. There is, it seems, "a glut of people who can't qualify for highly skilled jobs but have a hard time adjusting to low-pay, unskilled work like the food servers that Pilot Flying J seeks for its truck stops." It turns out that a lot of people who once eked out mostly comfortable middle-class lives do not want to now become service-industry wage slaves, and there's no training for people who would like to work slightly more specialized jobs!
 Unemployed people are all lazy.

But don't forget the taxes. Read the article (here). It's good.

The witness stand is a lonely place to lie

(h\t Towleroad)

David Boies (one of 2 lead attorneys for plaintiffs in the case that overturned Prop. 8) and Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council. Apparently Perkins isn't aware of the Commandment that says "Thou shalt not lie" (or something like that). Fucker.

And gosh, it sounds like Perkins has never heard of Loving v. Virginia. Fucker.

Still enough time to figure out how to chase the blues away

Birthday girl Whitney Houston has 6 Grammys and an Emmy.

And she had (past tense) one of the most amazing voices in pop music. But then she met Bobby Brown--the time for the intervention was at the 1999 Grammys, when accepting Best R&B Female Vocalist for "It's Not Right (But It's Okay)" (a song predicated on the notion that waiters can't divide a dinner check across multiple credit cards). She called Bobby Brown the "king of R&B music."

She called Bobby Brown the king of R&B music.

And she wasn't immediately whisked away to rehab.

All of her friends and family (aside from husband Bobby Brown) failed her. At that point, they failed. Period.

Sure "Humpin' Around" is a classic (cough), but I think Smokey Robinson might merit that title a little more. Or James Brown. Or Michael Jackson. Or Stevie Wonder. Or Luther Vandross. Or Marvin Gaye. Or Al Green. Or James Ingram. Or Prince (but fuck Prince!). Or Sam Cooke. Or Rick James. Or, fuck, Lionel Richie. Or Barry White. Fuck, even Terrence Trent D'Arby has as much of a claim to that title. Daryl Hall does. Shit.

Anyway, friends and family of Whitney Houston, when you look back and try to figure out the moment where you should have done something, that was it.

Here's here second best selling single, and pure pop brilliance at that!

Ray Liotta looked good in a speedo

In 1986's Something Wild, his first motion picture, he did. I mean, his character was also creepy as hell, but he rocked that speedo. Of course the role was originally cast with Chris Isaak, which means we missed out on a chance to see Chris Isaak in a speedo, which might possibly answer the question of "does Chris Isaak have a large penis?" (I'm typing this because I'm currently the #4 search result when you Google "Chris Isaak penis" and I'm trying to get it up. I mean the search result, not Chris Isaak's penis. Although...)

It's a great quirky comedy, directed by Jonathon Demme. And it's one of birthday girl Melanie Griffith's best performances--which is charitable of me, to suggest she might have 2 good performances, don't you agree?

Bonus #1: John Waters!

Bonus #2: The Feelies!

Oh and Melanie, happy birthday dude! Rock on! And say hi to your neighbor for me.

Happy Birthday Sam Elliott

It's a shame he's not a bigger star, but I think he's reached a point where small but juicy roles will come his way with regularity (The Big Lebowski and Thank You For Smoking are examples).

But let's go back to 1976, to the highly influential film Lifeguard. My family went to see something at the drive-in (I have no idea what), and I watched Lifeguard on the other screen. I wonder what it was that caught my attention. And why didn't Lifeguard win an Oscar for Costume Design?

The movie also stars future Oscar nominees Anne Archer and Kathleen Quinlan, and has Parker Stevenson's first appearance in the lifeguard trunks he'd later don in Baywatch.

Yet the movie is more than just a fiesta of beefy hairy chests (ah, the 70s)--it's ALSO a fiesta of hot chicks in bikinis! (In case you're into that kind of thing.) And the movie may or may not have a plot--but it is a total celebration of an ideal version of the California beach lifestyle.

If these words aren't enough to motivate you to look up this lost gem, then watch him in Thank You For Smoking--director Jason Reitman seems to get Elliott's charms (he also used Elliott as the Captain of the American Airlines fleet, part of a pivotal moment in Up in the Air).

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Songs of the Day: "Devil's Spoke" & "Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)"

Laura Marling's I Speak Because I Can is her second album. And she's only 20 years old. And it's on the Mercury Music Prize shortlist. It says the album deals with "the responsibilities of womanhood" which is awesome since I'm sure she has a lot to teach.

It has a nice enough Beth Orton-ish sound that normally I'd be affable toward, but this morning, well, she has a shitload of videos for all her music, and I can't embed any of them. So I have to use something besides the official videos. Which is stupid. So Marling, maybe one of the responsibilities of womanhood you haven't encountered is setting up a Vevo channel on the youtubes...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

RIP Patricia Neal

An Oscar and Tony winning actress, Neal's win for Best Actress for Hud confuses me since the role seems supporting to me. But perhaps I missed something when I saw it; she picked up the Oscar, and a few key critics awards as well. It might be attributable to a lack of competition (the only role I recognize that she beat was Shirley MacLaine in Irma la Douce) but still, confused.

Her life off-screen was a little more interesting, including her marriage to Roald Dahl, her 3 strokes (for which she helped raise both awareness and money for a treatment center in Knoxville that bares her name), and the fact that she was originally offered the part of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate.

Koo-koo-ka-choo Patricia Neal. Rest in peace.

Don't fall on your sword, just play another chord

It's also The Edge's birthday. Not "an" edge, THE Edge, thank you. Here he is taking on lead vocals in a video recreation of "Numb" using Legos. God bless the inter-webby tubes.

And Sinead O'Connor's earliest recording was "Heroine" from The Edge's 1986 score for Captive.

In addition to his gazillion Grammys, The Edge was nominated for an Original Song Oscar for the terribly inappropriate-for-the-movie "The Hands That Built New York" from Gangs of New York. I don't know if a jukebox musical based on U2 songs is inevitable (cringe) but I can see him with a Tony at some point. Just saying. [UPDATE: Duh, he's part of the Spider-Man musical that may or may not happen.]

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Dustin Hoffman

The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy are his most iconic roles. Rain Man his most, crap, what's the word. I mean, he's good in the movie, it's just that the movie is so... so. And yet it's way better than Hook. And don't get me started on Christmas Day Crapfest™(an unintended tradition amongst me and my friends through the late 80s--seems that whatever we saw turned out to be complete crap) that was Family Business.

Since I've written of my love for Ishtar (here), today we'll talk about Hoffman's 7th Oscar nomination: Wag the Dog. It was a re-teaming of Hoffman with Rain Main director Barry Levinson, with a great cast including Robert DeNiro, Willie Nelson, Anne Heche (NOTE: she is actually good in this movie), Denis Leary and Andrea Martin--the character played by Woody Harrelson (the character, not the actor) is the movie's annoyance, but I highly recommend it anyway.

The movie is about how "Washington" uses distractions to keep voters focused on unimportant shit (like, I don't know, Rev. Wright, birth certificates, death panels, the impropriety of appearing on The View, the horrific disrespect of skipping a Boy Scouts thing, etc.) so they don't look up from their Two and a Half Men rerun (in my case, Project Runway Season 8 bitches!) and say, fuck, we're STILL at war in Afghanistan?! It's America's longest war. And, AND, we got tax cuts while it was going on? No WONDER we have a huge deficit. God that George W. Bush sure is a war criminal.

Wait, there's a whole OTHER war too? Shit. What was that about a birth certificate? I don't care if his birth state's Republican Governor says that all Obama's documentation is legitimate and he WAS born in Hawaii, I still think there's something there, if we can only fixate on that another 18 months.

Back the the movie: Hoffman channels legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans, who even proclaimed "I was great in that movie!" after the screening. It's a perfect use of Hoffman's manic energy, and foiled nicely by DeNiro as a DC spin doctor. The only thing that feels off, aside from the whole "how do you actually fake a war" thing is scenes where DeNiro wears a turtle neck instead of a tie. Who in DC does that?

The screenplay is from David Mamet, so it's quick and funny and quick. Sure, maybe logic takes the backseat to a great piece of dialog, but the effect is a really dark screwball comedy.

The movie, about a President trying to distract the public from a sex scandal, was released a couple of months before Republicans were given their greatest gift since Ronald Reagan: Bill Clinton's penis. If you don't know, Bill Clinton had an affair and something something tax cuts. So naturally when the US had bombing runs in Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and became part of NATO troops in Serbia, each one of those was "wagging the dog." But the screenplay is based on the novel American Hero and it's really about George H. W. Bush and Operation Leave Saddam in Power!!! Ironic, right?

Anyway, you want prescient? Here's prescient.

And Dustin, happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Songs of the Day: "Tambourine" & "Skip James"

Mercury Prize shortlist entry Golden is the debut from the Kit Downes Trio. Downes is a British jazz pianist, once a member of Empirical (this probably means something to jazz fans). And acoustic jazz is the kind I associate with white people, and the coffee kiosk at Borders Books & Music.

From Dizzee Rascal to Kit Downes Trio is a pretty big jump--it will be interesting to see where we go next.