Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Notes on Foxcatcher

Channing Tatum is sad but his nipples are perky.

It seems counterintuitive that a movie with Channing Tatum, Channing Tatum's glistening bare chest and Steve Carell in heavily-touted-for-Oscar role (the only other performances that I recall garnering similar buzz were Mo'Nique in Precious Blah Blah Blah and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club and we all saw how that turned out) would disappoint me.

Factor in director Bennett Miller (I loved Moneyball) and Channing Tatum in singlets (NOTE: it's okay to refer to them as wrestling singlets but since wrestling singlets are the primary form of singlet I feel pretty strongly that they are "singlets" and all other singlets require modifiers... not that you asked).

While the movie has great performances from Carell and Tatum, a solid performance from what's his name, the third Hulk and some fine editing (the cinematography is lovely but static and Vanessa Redgrave is, mystifyingly, in this movie [seriously, Redgrave is one of my favorite actresses but she had nothing to do here--she played a disapproving old woman {SEE ALSO: my family reunions}... was Jane Alexander too busy? {also a favorite, no disrespect meant to her}]) it ends up as less than the sum of these parts.

I am open to watching it again (at home) to see if I caught it on a bad night (I mean a bad night for me, I'm pretty sure the movie is nearly the same every time). Until then I see a solid contender for Best Actor in Steve Carrell and... his nose (Best Makeup/Hairstyling) frankly that's about it.

It's a darkhorse for Best Picture (thanks to the "up to 10 nominees" system put in place a few years ago), Best Editing  and Best Original Screenplay (more to hedge my cynicism).

Mark Ruffalo (that's his name) is routinely cited as a contender for Best Supporting Actor but I don't get it based on the movie. The category is solid with J.K. Simmons, Edward Norton and Ethan Hawke with Ruffalo and Robert Duvall both receiving nominations in the category from the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards. A smarter person would just call him solid for a nomination but I find myself wishing Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) would finally get some respect; also The Judge, with a Metacritic score of 48, just looks like a total piece of shit.

Frankly I think it would have been smarter to submit Carell as supporting actor. He'd still face a tough battle with Simmons but Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Birdman, the black British dude who plays MLK, the white British dude (you know, the one) who plays Mr. Turner, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bradley Cooper, Tom Hardy and that dude who plays James Brown I think he's gonna have to work the circuit just to eke out a nomination.

Long story short: this was NOT the movie for me to see the day after Birdman.

Notes on Birdman

Ugh, I'm so annoyed. I was elated after seeing Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) that I started to compose this blog post on my iPad using the Blogger app but, when I went to find out the name of the performer who played the critic in the movie (Lindsay Duncan, who sadly didn't receive sufficient title credit to merit inclusion in the movie's Screen Actors Guild Best Ensemble nomination), I lost those 2 or 3 paragraphs.

And they were the best damn paragraphs. Or at least I documented all kinds of stuff that I can't remember now.

I went to Birdman expecting to see a clever deconstructed (or possibly meta--I keep confusing the 2) movie about a washed up superhero movie star trying for one last shot at respectability. What I got was a movie that surprised and delighted me at every turn, never playing it safe or taking an obvious turn.

The film's been getting a lot of love in terms of critics' awards and nominations making these predictions pretty easy. I think the movie/cast/crew are solid contenders for 7 Oscar nominations (announced in about 2 weeks): Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki).

The movie did not make the short list for Best Visual Effects and its score has been ruled ineligible for that category (which is a shame--the score is this loose thread of drum-heavy jazz music that flows through the movie the way the camera does [there are few discernible edits and the camera rarely rests for more than 2 minutes]; regardless of AMPAS's decision, the score is the perfect companion for the camerawork).

This leaves costumes, make-up/hairstyling, art direction, sound mixing, sound effects editing and editing. The lack of discernible editing (as mentioned earlier) keeps me from thinking the movie is anything but a darkhorse is that category (although it's tipped as most likely by at least one prognosticator) but last year's winner Gravity had a smaller version of the "one extreme take" approach (and the 2 movies share their cinematographer). As with its visual effects, the scenes with notable sound effects are limited and easily overlooked in a slate of effects-driven blockbusters. I can't see sound mixing going their way either, more by the merit of several other films. The costumes, make-up and art direction are all solid efforts, but its rare for anything but a period piece or high concept contemporary era film to rate for costumes or art direction.

I don't see the film's make-up and hairstyling (both have non-trivial contributions to the story) outpacing Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent or Steve Carrell's nose in Foxcatcher. (UPDATE: And I am correct as the movie didn't make the shortlist for this category.)

I'm probably wrong about the 7 nominations (it will likely be 8).

See this awesome movie (eventually, not like today unless you're someone who would go to a movie theater).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Miley Was Robbed (And Other Random Grammy Nominations Reactions)

Grammy nominations were announced a couple of days ago. While checking on nominations for Rosanne Cash (she picked up 3, 2 in what seem to be brand new categories) I started to wonder if they will ever have the same set of categories 2 years in a row.

I've felt detached from the music scene recently (thus no songs of the day) so I don't have anything particularly egregious that I'd want to see represented... aside from Miley Cyrus. Her one nomination is for Bangerz for Best Pop Album; she competes against 2 album of the year nominees (although this category has favored albums ahead of those nominated in the higher profile category). My ire really should be directed at last year's nominees since "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop" were eligible then (she was cock blocked by Imagine Dragons and Katy Perry). But I have a hard time believing that her collaboration with Pharrell, "Come Get it Bae," didn't pick up a nomination somewhere, like contemporary R&B or pop. It's a fucking Pharrell song and he has 30 nominations to his name. So yeah, I feel a little bad for Miley. Especially when Iggy Azalea picked up 4 nominations including Record of the Year. Please. Take a moment to bask in the non-nominated fun...

I suspect this year is Beck's best shot at winning Album of the Year. He's logged a steady run of nominations beginning with "Loser" and made the Album of the Year short list twice. He lost to Celine Dion and Steely Dan. His rivals are Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams. I see it as a race between Beyoncé' and Beck. Both albums have similar metacritic scores (Beck at 81 and Beyoncé' at 85). Beck's return to his somber side against Beyoncé's most acclaimed album (and once with an audacious surprise release and accompanying set of videos). This year Beyoncé took the title of most Grammy nominations for a female artist (53, sorry Dolly, but you can come back) so maybe this is her year for a win (it's her second nomination in the category). I'm good with either outcome but probably should listen to B's album.

I'm fine with "Shake It Off," "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)" and "All About the Bass" picking up nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year (which is for the songwriters). In fact, let's enjoy a little Meghan now.

I don't get why "Stay With Me" has that parenthetical in the title (as though it's a remix) but if the song is just the song it should just be "Stay With Me." Interestingly, Darkchild (aka Rodney Jenkins) does not share in the Song of the Year nomination, further convincing me that I'm right (like I needed help).

The Sia song also nominated in those categories is NOT a Rihanna song. Some of you might not realize that.

I'm happy to see nominations for Bastille and Haim among the Best New Artists. Sam Smith probably has this sewn up.

Annie Lennox picked up a nomination for Nostalgia and while I thought some recent comments she made about Beyoncé' and feminism were a little ill-considered, it's always good to see her getting some respect. She competes against OMG-so-overrated Tony Bennett for his collaboration with Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and Johnny Mathis (who has never won a Grammy [aside from some honorary crap, like that counts]).

Rosanne Cash's three nominations include 2 for "A Feather's Not  a Bird" in new categories Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song. She competes against Greg Allman, John Hiatt and Steve Martin (among others).

The best slate of nominees has James Franco, Jimmy Carter, Joan Rivers, John Waters, Elizabeth Warren and Gloria Gaynor up for Best Spoken Word Album. Both Gaynor and Carter are previous winners.

Neil Patrick Harris could move one letter closer to EGOT with a nomination for the cast album of Hedwig. Cheyenne Jackson is also nominated in the category, as is Jessie Mueller and I'm sure that's who John will root for.

Awesome Mix Vol. 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy is nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, which is awesome, cause it is awesome.

So the most outrage I have this year is Iggy Azalea... why?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Notes on Gone Baby Gone Girl

I saw Gone Girl a couple weeks ago and the same weekend I finally got around to seeing Ben Affleck's (who is in Gone Girl) directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone on IFC. The movies share similar traits beyond merely fun-to-mash-up titles including somewhat elaborate and unsettling plot twists, downbeat endings and strong performances by leading men with the last name Affleck.

Only one of the movies included a leading man's penis (unless IFC edited out part of GBG). You're probably expecting me to focus on Ben Affleck's penis here (I expected it of me) but I'm not going to. I'll just say "good for him" and maybe he and Michael Fassbinder can finally help liberate today's actors from their pants. Regardless, the penis wasn't shown enough for me to get a good sense of what we're working with here, so advantage Fassbinder.

Gone Baby Gone, Affleck's first film as a director, is based on one of those Dennis Lahane novels that makes me never ever want to visit Boston (see also: Mystic River) and showcased fantastic work by Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Amy Ryan who picked up most critics awards and a nomination for Supporting Actress (losing the Oscar to Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton, but really she won it for being Tilda Swinton). There's a lot of good stuff in the movie. Enough good stuff, in fact, that I question why Michelle Monaghan gets work. I assume she was just Liv Tyler's lip double on the set of Pearl Harbor and Affleck hired her because he couldn't think of a reasonably good actress that age that was available. Seriously, who does she screw to get work? Madigan and Ryan really should be cast as siblings somehow where they can really chew the scenery with each other, like American Horror Story or True Detective. Enough about the old, back to the current...

From an awards perspective, Gone Girl is nicely executed, great direction pulling together solid performances, editing and music out of a probably-faithful-to-the-book-I-didn't read script. When the Social Network garnered a gazillion critics' awards a few years ago, I didn't understand what was they found so artful in David Fincher's direction there. Still don't although knowing that the Winklevoss twins were both played by the same actor does impress.

Here, however, his ability to deftly merge the various layers so artfully while not serving up something the screams DAVID FINCHER MOVIE did impress me here. This movie isn't directed by the David Fincher who directed Se7en and Fight Club and Zodiac and The Game and Panic Room! (Becky and I added the exclamation point). I might credit the maturation to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but I'm not sure if The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo counts as him sliding back into his old ways.

And it's not that I don't like the first David Fincher, it's just that his style is so recognizable that it's almost cliche. But dammit it's fun. The over reliance on flashlights has its charms in a thriller.

The layer I noticed first this time was the music. Fincher returned to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross whose collaboration on The Social Network earned them an Oscar and on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo earned them a Grammy. I don't know that I could hum you any of this score, but I remember distinctly thinking that it was great, perfect for this movie. I'm sure if I watched the movie again I could tell you more than that. I think they're solidly in the race for another Oscar nomination.

I also loved the casting for this movie. Ben Affleck is the most traditional part of that, but the role plays to his strengths as an actor and his acting has matured. Or he showed his penis and that's all it takes with me. Rosamund Pike, on the other hand, is not someone I would automatically think of for a role this complicated and unlikable (in large part because I wouldn't have thought of her). The producer credit for Reese Witherspoon is due to her snapping up the movie rights immediately with the idea that she's tackle the role. I think we're all better off with that not happening although I would love it if there was some kind of screen test with her and perhaps a few others doing the same scene (like Hilary Swank and Gwyneth Paltrow [not really, more to establish that Witherspoon's Oscar owes more to good timing than talent]). Pike does an amazing job of inhabiting an odious character and I think she's the movie's single strongest shot at an Oscar nomination (her or for Adapted Screenplay). Interestingly she may face competition from Reese Witherspoon whose turn in Wild has "Oscar bait" written all over it. In as less competitive year for lead actors I'd call Affleck solidly in the race for a nomination but given the competition I think he's dark horse at best. He'll face Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, Steve Carrell as Jon du Pont and David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, so really it's tough to rationalize him among the final 5.

The ensemble is somewhat eclectic, Neil Patrick Harris, Missi Pyle and Lisa Banes, all faves, seem like obvious casting choices. Casey Wilson and Tyler Perry, on the other hand, did not. And Tyler Perry, while not particularly showy, is awesome in this role. I don't expect any of the non-leads to merit more than an ensemble mention in awards season.

The movie's editing is probably solid (not strong, but not a dark horse) for a nomination. I think the cinematography, lacking really showy moody work, is dark horse at best. It's nice camera work, but the 3-minute trailer from The Immigrant should beat this entire movie in that category. With contemporary costumes and current era residential locations I don't see nominations for Costume Design or Production Design. It lacks any obvious audio elements that would suggest nominations in the sound categories and I doubt make-up or visual effects will merit either.

I don't think there's an eligible Original Song and I'm disappointed that there isn't some shitty pop song, totally unrelated to the movie expect possibly having the words "gone" and "girl" in the title and the chorus, blatantly looking for a nomination. The kind of song that earned Huey Lewis a Oscar nomination for "The Power of Love" (a song which has nothing whatsoever to do with time travel). I'm thinking Shawn Colvin or Seal or Blake Shelton. Or maybe all 3.

The movie is a strong contender for Best Picture, Best Director for Fincher and Adapted Screenplay.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

R.I.P. Marcia Strassman

Best known from Welcome Back Kotter, my favorite performance of hers is as the "perfect woman" in the little-seen early 80s romantic comedy Soup For One. It's at the link below in its entirety, for free (if you don't count the banner ads), so watch it sometime.

BONUS: the soundtrack by Nile Rodgers and the late great Bernard Edwards and includes a Europen club hit by Carly Simon that I've never heard. Aside from the movie, which clearly I've forgotten. It's been a while.

Rest in peace dude.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1984

It's almost deja vu all over again with 2 more tracks by the Bergmans. The nominees were...

  • "Flashdance... What a Feeling" from Flashdance (Giorgio Moroder, music; Keith Forsey and Irene Cara, lyrics) - winner
  • "Maniac" from Flashdance (Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, music and lyrics)
  • "Over You" from Tender Mercies (Austin Roberts and Bobby Hart, music and lyrics)
  • "Papa Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl (Michel Legrand, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics) 
  • "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl (Michel Legrand, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)

What's missing? "Don't Box Me In" from Rumblefish and "Far From Over" from Staying Alive.
We start with "Over You" from Tender Mercies. Yawn. It's largely generic and completely forgettable. You guys took Stewart and Stan's nomination, dammit. [3]

The 2 songs from Yentl are less generic than prior nominations, or at least they're so obviously specific to Yentl that you couldn't really swap them with a song from another movie. "The Way He Makes Me Feel" [5] is less than "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" which was wonderfully John's team name when we used to predict celebrity deaths. [7]

Flashdance revolutionized movie music (and movie editing) and became the first post modern film musical. And its 2 nominated songs are pretty fucking awesome. I love "Maniac" [8] and only like "Flashdance... What a Feeling" [8 and should have won] but I can't rationalize picking "Maniac" ahead of a song with "Just a steel town girl on a Saturday night" as it's opening lyric. Good job Academy, you got one right.

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1983

Well that was quite a break but I'm not going to waste time apologizing, let's just dig in. Here are the nominees I'll be dissecting.

  • "Up Where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman (Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie, music; Will Jennings, lyrics)
  • "Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky III (Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan, music and lyrics)
  • "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" from Best Friends (Michel Legrand, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)
  • "If We Were in Love" from Yes, Giorgio (John Williams, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)
  • "It Might be You" from Tootsie (Dave Grusin, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)

What's missing? Two songs from Victor/Victoria ("Chicago, Illinois" and "Le Jazz Hot") or possibly "This One's From the Heart" from One From the Heart.

So if you pay attention to the nominated songwriters you'll see Alan and Marilyn Bergman's names next to 3 songs or varying quality and relation to their respective movies. The least of these 5 nominees is "If We Were in Love"--it's generic and unlistenable. [3]

I've never been a big fan of "Up Where We Belong" or An Officer and a Gentleman. I can't rationalize Louis Gosset Jr. beating James Mason or John Lithgow that year. And the song is, um, WTF is it about? I mean aside from the stated love, lifting us up where we belong (which is presumably the air [where the eagles fly, of course]). Props to Jennifer Warnes for playing beauty to the beastly voice of Joe Cocker, otherwise this song is a huge meh. [6]

Next is the generic lyrics from the Bergmans parade is "It Might be You" from Tootsie. Could you swap the songs to the other movies? Yes, yes you could. [7]

Which brings us, remarkably, to a song that I've grown to appreciate tremendously in this exercise... "Eye of the Tiger" is the fucking jam. There's a reason it's become the blue print for training montage anthems. It fucking rocks. "Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet. Just a man and his will to survive"... amen. [9 and should have won]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just See Drowning as a Gift

Among my many failings is my failing as a liberal to be all pro-abortion all the time (not All Pro abortion like All Pro football, that's something else entirely). But the vitriol and intransigence of the debate means you can't effectively have a nuanced opinion. It's all or nothing and if conservatives implement things like abstinence-only sex education (which increased the teen pregnancy rates) I feel like I need to be a pro-choice dude. All of that is a slight disclaimer, this graphic is perfect.

The First Monday in October

The first Monday in October marks the beginning of the US Supreme Court's term. That's today.

It's also the name of a 1977 play and 1981 film about the inevitable hijinks likely to occur should a girl ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. The movie's release was accelerated after Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment.

You can tell a lot
about this movie from
this poster
Chances are you didn't see the play (starring Henry Fonda and Jane Alexander) nor the movie (with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh) so here's the quick summary. He's the liberal of the court and she's a conservative (and the first-ever girl). There is a case involving a film called The Naked Nymphomanic which may or may not be pornographic thus someone please think of the children.

There's also a second story about a shadowy monolithic company named Omnitech that I vaguely recall but not well enough to get a sense for how prescient it was toward Halliburton.

I'm willing to bet $20 that between the 2 cases, 1 goes in Matthau's favor and 1 in Clayburgh's. And also lessons are learned.

Neither of the leads does a memorable job in the roles. I'm curious about how Jane Alexander did on stage (she's long been a favorite of mine) but not enough to figure out if there's a video of the play somewhere.

On censorship...

And Omnitech...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1982

Continuing from here and presumably you remember how we started. Here are the five nominees (films released in 1981 for the Oscars awarded in 1982):
  • "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from Arthur (Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen, music and lyrics) - winner
  • "Endless Love" from Endless Love (Lionel Richie)
  • 'The First Time it Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper (Joe Raposo)
  • "For Your Eyes Only" from For Your Eyes Only (Bill Conti, music; Michael Leeson, lyrics)
  • "One More Hour" from Ragtime (Randy Newman, music and lyrics)
Nothing really notable is absent ("Appreciate the Lady" from The Fox and the Hound or "Never Say Goodbye" from Continental Divide anyone?).
The first time you see her
No bolt from the blue
Just something so quiet
That's waiting for you
It would be difficult to match the brilliance of "The Rainbow Connection" and with "The First Time it Happens from The Great Muppet Caper they didn't. Not even close. [4]
One more sad song
Play for me
One more sad song
Play for me, won't you play for me?
About 20 years ago Becky pointed out that every Randy Newman song is just a commercial for Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. She was basically right, but the one time you could forgive him for this was for the nominee from Ragtime, 1 of his first 2 of 20 (so far) nominations (with 2 wins). Not even Jennifer Warnes can do much for this pretty flimsy song (the lyrics above are 1/3 of the song). [5]
Maybe I'm an open book because I know you're mine
But you won't need to read between the lines
Can somebody explain to me why songwriters create love songs for James Bond movies? Between the gadgets, the clothes and the frequent one night stands the character comes off as gayer than my trip across the country to see Cher on Halloween. Given the year and the fact that it's a Roger Moore Bond I'll guess that he has 4 separate hook-ups (including some ribald scene before the credits where M calls while he's fucking). Anyone singing that Bond is theirs is about to get fed to the sharks with the lasers.  Sheena  Easton sings the shit out of it (and is the only singer seen in a Bond movie's credits). [6]
Arthur he does as he pleases
All of his life, he's mastered choice
Deep in his heart, he's just, he's just a boy
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" was a huge hit for no clear reason (the whole yacht rock thing swept Christopher Cross to this slew of major Grammys and an Oscar). When I listened to this recently I realized it's just a quilt of music and lyrics. It feels like it's got a lot of heart but it's just a lot of romantic chord progressions and vaguely deep lyrics. The lyrics above are the only part of the song with that narrative style--it really feels like 4 contributors just stapled their part to the other stuff. Allen wrote the part about being caught between the moon and New York City while his flight from LA was circling the city waiting for a runway to open up. I have no idea how long that was before the movie Arthur was made. In other years the Academy limited each song to a maximum of 3 nominees which is arbitrary and Peter Allen is probably pretty lucky that wasn't one of those years. Not that lucky since he's dead, but he's still an Oscar winner. [8]
And love
Oh, love
I'll be a fool
For you
Another huge hit. More flimsy lyrics. But ultimately it's a song that far surpasses the forgettable source material. It deserves to be a perennial wedding favorite. Probably bought Lionel Richie a jet. [8 and the song I would pick to win]

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1981

Continuing from here and presumably you remember how we started. Here are the five nominees (films released in 1980 for the Oscars awarded in 1981):

  • "Fame" from Fame (Michael Gore, music; Dean Pitchford, lyrics) - winner
  • "Nine to Five" from Nine to Five (Dolly Parton, music and lyrics)
  • "On the Road Again" from Honeysuckle Rose (Willie Nelson, music and lyrics)
  • "Out Here on my Own" from Fame (Michael Gore, music; Lesley Gore, lyrics)
  • "People Alone" from The Competition (Lalo Schifrin, music; Will Jennings, lyrics)

Notably absent:
  • "Dogs in the Yard" from Fame
  • "I'm Alright (Theme from Caddyshack)" from Caddyshack
  • "It's My Turn" from It's My Turn
Notes of interest: After Melissa Manchester (allegedly--I haven't vetted this Wikipedia assertion yet) became the first artist to sing 2 Oscar-nominated songs, Irene Cara does the same thing the next year. Both songs are from the same movie so if that nuance was intrinsic to Machester's claim to fame, it stands.
People alone may go very fast
But maybe not so far
Playing alone is still solitaire
This was an unbelievably good year for songs. The weakest of the 5 nominees is "People Alone" from a movie that I rather loved when it was out. I could have never sung the song and even listening to it recently I was delighted to hear Randy Crawford doing her best to work the forgettable lyrics into something enjoyable. I rate "People Alone" with a [4] and would gladly accept any of the 3 absent songs in its place.
Oh, baby, be strong for me
Baby, belong to me
Help me through
Help me need you
"Out Here on My Own" is wonderful, somber, really poignant and well featured in the movie. In any other year, a slam dunk for a nomination, and possibly a win. [8]
Baby I'll be tough, too much is not enough, no
I can ride your heart 'til it breaks
Ooh, I got what it takes
"Fame" is a big, brassy production number and the kind of movie that taps into high school music program zeitgeist, and probably lives there still today. It's probably outlasted the song from Ice Castles in that regard. I don't begrudge it a win but it's not the song I would have selected, although just barely. [8]
They let your dream, just watch 'em shatter
You're just a step on the boss man's ladder
I would have bet you I'd pick "Out Here on My Own" as my winner from this year, until I sat down and listened to the songs closely and as much in the context of their movies as I could. "Nine to Five" is a great overture to the movie and it was a pop culture hit. It made Dolly Parton more than a country music superstar. But then "On the Road Again" did the same for Willie Nelson. Honeysuckle Rose is a lesser movie than Nine to Five, but Nine to Five could survive without its song.  "Nine to Five" [9]; "On the Road Again" [9, and what I'd pick as winner]
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way and our way

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1980

So I watched Muppets Most Wanted the other night. I'm a fan of the Muppets, of their pastiche of old school vaudeville cum slapstick (unless that's redundant) balanced with whatever random sight gag they can blend into a bit. My personal goal is to be Statler or Waldorff providing running commentary on the world (and I'd like to think I've accomplished a little bit of that with my blog), so girl you know I loves me some Muppets.

The songs in MMW were pretty generic and then I remembered that "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets earned an Oscar and, if I recall correctly, it was one of the worst fucking songs to win an Oscar ever, ever.

But was it, really? I've been an Oscars enthusiast for 30+ years, surely I could take a trip back through my time as an Oscar watcher and come up with a definitive rating of each nominated song and rank the best movie songs of my adolescent and adult lifetime.  I decided to start with the 1980 Oscars which represent 1979 movies--this would range from me at 12 years old up until now when I'm 36 (I'm efficient about aging).

I decided to rate songs on a 0 to 10 scale listening to each song, preferably in the context of its presentation in the movie, although that wasn't always a possibility. I was listening for the quality of the song writing, the evocation of mood, whether the song propels or informs the story, and whether or not the song fits the movie. Often I'd find myself bumping a score by a couple of points if I just fucking love the song, but not as often as I expected. In fact Survivor and Kenny Loggins benefit greatly from my adult objectivity.

I'm going to write in smallish batches to keep myself going and not get super bored. There might be an overall ranking at the end, check back often to find out!

And feel free to liberally use the comments to agree with me (or be wrong)!

From the 1980 Oscars the nominees were:
  • "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae (David Shire, music; Norman Gimbel, lyrics) - winner
  • "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie (Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, music and lyrics)
  • "Song from 10 (It's Easy to Say)" from 10 (Henry Mancini, music; Robert Wells, lyrics)
  • "Theme from Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love)" from Ice Castles (Marvin Hamlisch, music; Carole Bayer Sager, lyrics)
  • "Theme from The Promise (I'll Never Say Goodbye)" from The Promise (David Shire, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)
Some of you might notice the absence of "The Rose" from The Rose, a song that became a signature for Bette Midler and won the Golden Globe that year. Here's the thing, "The Rose" wasn't written for The Rose and had been performed by the songwriter for a couple of years before the movie was filmed. The lack of a nomination always seemed like an injustice until I found that small detail. As she did with "Wind Beneath My Wings" Midler propelled an established piece to iconic movie music.

Also missing, but not really, is "The Main Event" from the Barbra Streisand/Ryan O'Neal film of the same name; and 3 songs from Starting Over.  These are songs I adore because they're performed awfully by Candice Bergen as part of the new life she creates for herself when divorcing Burt Reynolds. These songs haunt Reynolds through the movie: subtle and hysterical. The movie is filled with charm  and is a nice companion piece to Jill Clayburgh's It's My Turn.

What you can't see from the way I posted the nominees is who performs the song as presented in the movie. Back across the river, a former coworker of mine, upon hearing the song from An Officer and a Gentleman, called Jennifer Warnes a one-hit wonder. I corrected her that Warnes was a two-hit wonder with the Dirty Dancing song another #1 hit. I knew that sold her short when I said it but couldn't recall the solo song she released in the 70s (there were 2: "Right Time of the Night" went to #1 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart in 1977 and in 1979 she hit both the pop and country charts with "I Know a Heartache When I See One"). She deserves a little more respect (even if I dislike the 2 duets she's best known for).

Also notable here is the vocal stylings of Miss Melissa Manchester. Two of the nominees were sung by her (in the versions used in the respective movies). Her talents take a backseat to late 70s icons like Streisand, Midler, Summer and Linda Ronstadt, but she's pretty fucking amazing.  

Despite making it a punchline to a few jokes, I'd never heard the song from Norma Rae nor the non-punchline track from The Promise. I listened to all 5, read a little about each and here are my ratings"

"It Goes Like It Goes"
Bless the child of the workin' man she knows too soon who she is
And bless the hands of a workin' man he knows his soul is his
I wrote down "7 or 8" which means I expected it to be a 7 and really liked it. I'm officially giving it an 8 and will say it feels authentic, like a song that is inspired by the labor movement, not a song that sounds like it was inspired by the labor movement. [8]

"The Rainbow Connection"
Have you been half asleep?
And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name
I can't imagine a better contemporary song from a movie. It's relatable to kids and adults, it works to propel the story and its just fucking wonderful. [10]

"Song from 10 (It's Easy to Say)"
You'll lose your mind
And then you'll find
It's easy to say I love you
I think 10 is secretly the story of Henry Mancini's midlife crisis. I think many of Blake Edwards's movies from the late 60s through the 70s are about Mancini. That's not particularly relevant here but it's an idea that came to me when I re-watched 10 over Thanksgiving last year (it holds up really well and it Bo Derek didn't have those corn rows it would be esteemed so much more than it is). The song is dogged by relatively simple lyrics and its downbeat nature superimposed on a genius slapstick comedy. I know this signals the character's acceptance of his (pretty fucking awesome) life, his maturity, but they could have done that with, I don't know some cleverness or subtlety. [6]

"Theme from Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love)"
Please, don't let this feeling end
It might not come again and I want to remember
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG! This song, 1980 marching band season, holy shit. It felt like it was EVERYWHERE. As big a concert piece as you can imagine. I've never seen Ice Castles but a 1979 movie about a blind figure skater and Robbie Benson, or possibly a blind Robbie Benson and a figure skater, how much more 1979 can you get (answer: add Kristy McNichol). Fun fact: my real estate agent is the now-retired Kristy McNichol! This song is sappy and it owns every drop of sap. Melissa sings the shit out of it, too. Maybe one day I'll see the movie (but I doubt it). [9]

"Theme from The Promise (I'll Never Say 'Goodbye')"
I'm not afraid to say I love you
And I promise you I'll never say goodbye
It's big but meandering. The movie sounds like a mess but has an impossibly young Stephen Collins in a Love Story-esque rich guy/poor girl tear jerker, so contextually it works. And Melissa Manchester sings the shit out of it, only less so than on the blind ice skater movie. [7]

Oh, and don't read anything in to the fact that no 2 songs have the same score. That's just a fluke for this and you'll see I use the bottom part of the scale very soon. I would do it now but damn I wrote a lot for a single year so I'm stopping for tonight. Share your feedback in the comments section!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Grandpa goes to a rock show (or two)

Hey, how's your summer? Mine's kinda downbeat. I feel like it ended better than it began, so that's a plus. People having babies, people going crazy, people getting outta jail, people having trouble installing very heavy cast iron sinks. We are seeking professional help on that last one.

The kitchen is nearly mostly done. Hopefully a plumber can finesse the sink in and get all the hoses happy and working together and we can start washing dishes in the new dishwasher. And maybe even using the garbage disposal.

A quick aside: is there a day of the week that Tosh.0 is ever not on? What a piece of shit...

None of this is what I intended to write about. As the Summer of George of Rich concludes (or begins to conclude) we have 2 rock shows I haven't written about. A month or so ago it was The Hold Steady and Friday night it was The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo). Both nights had great opening acts: Cheap Girls and Telekinesis. Add Horse Thief from last winter's Stornoway show and I've been lucky to see some great new bands as opening acts this year.  I'll see Cymbals Eat Guitars open for Bob Mould,  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (whom I know and like) open for The New Pornographers and possibly no one opening for The Avett Brothers (which is, on its own, becoming a whole thing I'd rather just skip, but more on that later).

Cheap Girls, they rocked. I bought their CD.

The Hold Steady, they rocked. I don't think I've experienced such unbridled enthusiasm in a live show in forever. This was a band that was giddy to be performing. Rock on!

Telekinesis, they fucking rocked. I bought the 1 CD they had left and paid for 2 more today. Ted Leo came out to cover INXS's "Don't Change" and it was fucking awesome. The band is from Seattle even though half its members live in Portland and I want to see them again soon. Seriously fucking loved them.

The Both... they, um, performed well. It was the fourth or fifth time I've seen Aimee Mann live and it was the least of those shows. They played pretty much every song they recorded as The Both which meant they only did 3 or 4 tracks from each's individual career.  And stretch things out with ironic chatty stuff (my first Aimee Mann show included husband Michael Penn and comedian David Cross to talk in lieu of either musician).

Ted Leo is a Tolkien enthusiast.

So much so that he quoted the introduction to The Hobbit.

I'd have rather heard another track from The Brutalist Bricks.

Or another INXS cover.

I did not need to hear "Voices Carry" again. So I didn't.

And thus concludes rock shows in review.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Notes on the Emmys

This will make for a remarkably easy Emmys recap. In nearly every category that was presented last night, the winner was a previous winner, often in the same category and for that show. Allison Janney's sixth Emmy for Mom is a new category win for her (since Mom was a new show last season she couldn't be expected to have a prior win); it was her second Emmy in ten days. Kathy Bates's win for American Horror Story: Coven was her first for that show (possibly her first season on the show).

Because nearly everyone who won is someone who previously won there are no EGOT standings to update. First time winners Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are likely (Benedict moreso than Martin) to pick up more EGOT letters in the future. Cumbie cockblocked Matthew Macwhatever's attempt to build on his Oscar, so there's that.

As a Libra I'm both disappointed and relieved that Larry Kramer didn't win for adapting his play The Normal Heart. I'm sure he would have torn some folks a new asshole or 2, but on the other hand maybe Larry can just take a break. I know he'd have plenty of moral high ground to point out my years of comfort and complacency only exist because he worked so hard. It's true. But you've got the rest of your life to be a martyr, so maybe take a night off.

Is Gwen Stefani an idiot? Her inability to pronounce The Colbert Report did provide one of the funniest acceptance speeches of the evening. And kudos to Stephen Colbert and the folks at the show for another win before they close the books on one of the most fantastic shows that will ever be. I'm more than a little sad.

I wonder if Jon Hamm will ever win an Emmy. Maybe when he's 73.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Another lesson on the importance of paying attention

I think an eventual eulogy for me will include the phrase "he meant well," quite possibly following "he did some stupid things but" which is how my Friday night/Saturday morning went far differently than I expected.

First a bit of background: Portland hosts one of the largest relay races in the world, the annual Hood to Coast relay starting on Mt. Hood and concluding on the Oregon coast (the name makes total sense if you think about it). I've been adjacent to Hood to Coast-itis for years now, but I've avoided volunteering thus far (I have given, at this point, a shit ton of cash, well over a grand all total). There are 12,600 runners and the logistics require 3,600 volunteers. My former coworkers were struggling to find their third mandatory volunteer and Maddie offered to make me a cake and that was all she wrote.

Oh, it might also help to know that when Maureen did the walking version, Portland to Coast, the overnight leg in the country fascinated me. I keep wanting someone to see Big Foot out there. So when I picked my volunteer post, it was with the intention of seeing Big Foot out in the sticks. But because I am so smart, I picked a location where I would still have cell phone service.

Or so I thought.

It turns out I picked a location well out of cell phone service AND I made things worse by not paying super close attention to the directions I'd dutifully printed out before leaving the house.

I left the house at 11, plenty of time to get to Scappoose with no traffic (the fact that Scappoose wasn't actually my destination is besides the point). I missed the turn off Highway 30 then missed 2 subsequent turns, but recovered and found my post. I got parked and found the volunteer check in by 12:15 (oh yeah, there's this ominous thing where if I failed to show for my volunteer post the team would be disqualified which would totally suck and I did not want that no me).

At 12:16, not finding my name on their volunteer list, I asked which  post they were and found out that exchange 18 and exchange 19 are actually different places. [Distance traveled thus far: 27.5 miles.]

It turns out the directions to exchange 19 take you past exchange 18... but they don't actually say to stop there and try to check in.

When I left the exchange, to go the last 7 miles to the correct exchange, it was following the vague hand motion of a volunteer and the flow of traffic leaving the exchange.

A little more background: each team has 12 runners. The race allows each team to have 2 vehicles and they are only present together at exchanges divisible by 6 (your 6, your 12, your 24, etc.). Both vans would have been at exchange 18 but only van 2 would have gone to exchange 19. Van 1 for each team would have gone an alternate route to eventually meet the runners at exchange 24.

Apparently this is the flow of traffic I started following.

Oh, and all this time, I had my phone's GPS following a link from the HTC organization directing me to my place. Or something. It was a hot link to a map. But that map may not have been my specific leg. In fact it wasn't, which is why I was following these vans. I'm not an idiot.

I mean, I do really stupid things (but I mean well) but I'm not, clinically, an idiot.

The GPS on my phone kept working and gave me advice that kept me in the line of vehicles and after some ungodly amount of time (I was hoping I'd be there by 1:00 a.m., late but not horribly late, I could always work an extra hour) we came to more volunteers on the course. I asked them about exchange 19.

They were leg 22.


Imagine that windy stretch of road, in the dark, no cell, stressed about being late. It is less than 6 miles between exchange 18 and 19. I was in Vernonia, nearly 25 miles away. [Distance traveled thus far: 52.2 miles.]

At least finding exchange 19 would be easy. All I'd have to do is drive against the flow of runners. Easy peasy. Aside from there being long stretches of gravel back roads; no street lights and tons of runners coming at me. And vans. All 1,050 vans. But that just makes it easy.

My poor car needs a bath
I made it to exchange 21. It took a while, the roads were paved but narrow and windy and the runners kept coming. I couldn't really go more than 30 mph (I did, but I shouldn't have). The 7 miles probably took 20 minutes.

Then it was on to exchange 20. This was 5 miles of gravel and dust and runners and chaos. Those 5 miles probably took me a half hour. By this point it's getting close to 2:00 a.m. I am late as fuck and worried. But after exchange 20 I would be free and clear.

Or I would have been if I could have driven the course after exchange 20. The road was too narrow for them to allow me to go against traffic for this last leg. This last fucking leg. I was 6 miles from where I needed to be. I parked and talked to the volunteer coordinator. Could I just volunteer here? I just didn't want the team disqualified.

With no cell service they rely on ham radio to communicate between exchanges. I talked to the creepy pedo helpful ham radio operator hidden away in a van and he asked exchange 19 if I could check in remotely and do my time there or if I should come to the exchange even if I would be seriously late.

"Tell him to come on to exchange 19 even if he's late" would be the words haunting me for another 90 minutes. [Distance traveled thus far: 64 miles.]

I had to turn around and retrace my steps, almost back to exchange 18. By this time all functionality of my phone was lost. But I happened to have an old school GPS in the glove box (actually I had 2, shut up) and could see enough of the proper address on the print out so I was able to use that to get to the exchange. Or almost to the exchange.  Even with that I had to rely on following runners and asking volunteers. Another 36 miles back and then 5 miles to the exchange.

I arrived for my midnight to 4:00 a.m. shift at 3:30 in the morning. [Distance traveled thus far: 105 miles. Should have traveled: 34 miles.]

After 4+ hours of stress and driving I found my destination and only need to park in the horse corral. Which is when the passenger side rearview mirror lost the fight with a fence post. I heard it hit the post and stopped to back up. But when I backed up the mirror decided to stay with the post. Apparently this noise was very loud.

Very loud.

At 3:30 in the morning in the busy exchange the sound of plastic popping off my car pierced the area.

At least that's how my fellow volunteer, "comic book shop guy," described it.

But by god, I signed in and got my motherfucking t-shirt (size XL because that's all they had at that hour), the team didn't get disqualified (that I know of) and I kept the emergency vehicle zone clear of vans until 5:45.

My entire volunteer effort could have been handled by 4 orange plastic cones, but that's not what's important. What's important is you should always use your GPS and possibly pay attention to things.

That or don't volunteer in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Notes on the Creative Arts Emmys

Or as Kathy Griffin renamed them, the Shmemmys. These are largely technical categories (camera work, sound, editing) presented a week or so before the televised Emmy awards, but they include a few categories that normal people would be interested in (and here I'm being charitable by asserting that normal people would be interested, I just do this to make myself feel better about this fetish of mine) so let's talk about those.


Fucking finally.

Harry Shearer finally won an Emmy for his work on The Simpsons. He went decades without even a nomination (while all the other regular cast members and multiple guests have won). And his work is fucking great, don't even try to play ATAS's bitch by saying "well maybe the quality of his work, relative to his peers, wasn't as substantial" or some shit. Go back to sucking dicks. And congratulations to Harry.

And to a lesser extent, fucking finally... Bill Maher, whom I appreciate more than I genuinely like, won his first Emmy. After 33 nominations. He was, until Saturday night, the losing-est man in television. Not counting David Caruso. Maher won as a producer (or exec producer) of HBO's Vice.

Congratulations to Bob's Burgers which won Best Animated Series for the "Mazel Tina" episode. It's not the episode I would have submitted but then I don't have a TV show where my ability to make this decision would actually pay off somehow. Of course neither do you (probably).

Congratulations to Jimmy Fallon and Allison Janney for winning their third and fifth Emmys respectively (Guest Actor in a Comedy for hosting SNL; Guest Actress in a Drama for Masters of Sex). I don't watch Masters of Sex, but I never tire of this...

Congratulations to Uzo Aduba ("Crazy Eyes") and Joe Morton for winning Guest Actress in a Comedy (Orange is the New Black) and Guest Actor in a Drama (Scandal), respectively. I'm been a fan of Morton's since 1984 when he starred in John Sayles's The Brother From Another Planet, and I've enjoyed Aduba in the few episodes I've seen of OITNB. I was going to write something about how his path to an Emmy took 30 years while her's took 30 minutes but honestly she may have worked in obscurity for a while, as a black actress it's not like I'd see her on TV much.

For the third year in a row, the opening number of the Tony Awards won the Best Original Music & Lyrics Emmy. "Bigger" puts Tom Kitt (a Tony winner for Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (a Tony and Grammy winner for In the Heights) both one step closer to EGOT.

The high visibility categories air next Monday at John's house. No spoilers please.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Song of the Day: "Nothing but Trouble"

Phantogram will be here this weekend, part of the revised MusicfestNW format. I'm sure you'll be stunned to discover that I'm not going.

Stunned... sorry.

Still, great album.

Song: "Nothing but Trouble"
Artist: Phantogram

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

You probably know all about Robin Williams's apparent suicide yesterday, a result of depression and struggles with addiction. Memories of his work are flooding social media so I'm going to limit my post to just 1 of his works, the 1998 movie What Dreams May Come.

It's a passionate story about love and the afterlife, and coincidentally suicide plays an important element to the story. Williams and Annabella Sciorra (a pairing that breaks my 10-year rule, but does so before I created it) star, along with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Max Von Sydow. When I saw it in the theater I was effusive about the movie's greatness. A compelling story that's well acted, but far more than that is the visual elegance of the movie. Shot on Fuji Velvia film (a film with vivid color reproduction used largely for landscape photography) and with mesmerizing visuals (nominated for Best Art Direction, losing to Shakespeare in Love [I'm pretty sure I was rooting for Elizabeth]) and effects (it won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, beating the piece of shit Armageddon and Mighty Joe Young which I never saw).

It manages an ecumenical vision of heaven and hell without getting mired in specifics. I haven't seen it in 16 years but I proclaimed the movie a new classic back when I was writing movie reviews in emails (none of which I still have but all of which were awesome, trust me). I probably overstated that but I stand by my assertion that the movie is great.

My runner-up to encapsulate Williams's career is Aladdin.  But you've probably seen that one.

Williams had 5 Grammys, 2 Emmys and an Oscar.

Rest in peace dude.

Song of the Day: "American Dream Plan B"

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from Hypnotic Eye, their thirteenth studio album. It debuted at number 1 and received solid reviews, so why didn't I know it existed until last week?

Song: "American Dream Plan B"
Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Song of the Day: "Sparrows Will Sing"

Marianne Faithfull's voice is the perfect hybrid of stately and ballsy. She should cover some Leonard Cohen.

Or maybe Tom Waits.

Regardless, this was written by Roger Waters (the album also has tracks from Nick Cave... hmm).

Song: "Sparrows Will Sing"
Artist: Marianne Faithfull

Friday, August 8, 2014

Song of the Day: "Girl in a Country Song"

Hey let's flip the gender role switch!

This is not how you objectify men.

And I'd have a modicum of sympathy if I didn't know that these women leverage their hotness for every drop of worth.

On the plus side I do like those boots.

Song: "Girl in a Country Song"
Artist: Maddie & Tae

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Song of the Day: "How Can You Really'

Something new from Foxygen. They seem good candidates to replace Girls, but don't seem to be closing that deal.

Song: "How Can You Really"
Artist: Foxygen

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Song of the Day: "To the Top"

Remember when I went to Glasgow and, the night before my designation show, I went to Barrowlands to see Twin Shadow, only I didn't see Twin Shadow, I saw local band Twin Atlantic?

Later I ate fish and chips at the bus stop and a woman asked me where a dance club was and I said I wasn't a local and she said I looked quite lovely then. I'll take it.

It was a pretty good evening.

Song: "To the Top"
Artist: Twin Shadow

Monday, August 4, 2014

Song of the Day: "Killer in the Streets"

I'm really ignoring the blog lately... sorry. Here's new Ravonettes to get us into the week.

Song: "Killer in the Streets"
Artist: The Ravonettes

Friday, August 1, 2014

Song of the Day: "Wide Awake"

There's a hazy, disconnected quality to this song from J Mascis's new album Tied to a Star. He's joined by Chan Marshall (by night she's known as Cat Power), in case you were wondering who else that was.

Now you know.

And knowledge is power.

Song: "Wide Awake"
Artist: J Mascis/Cat Power

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Song of the Day: "Never Say Never"

"Without dance there is no love."

Twerqing doesn't count.

Song: "Never Say Never"
Artist: Basement Jaxx/ETML

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Song of the Day: "Magic Mountain"

I played The Drums during one of my threeway work day things (D and M and I get together to work in the same place to alleviate the need of some of the crew to be around other adult humans). The first album holds up really well and if you don't know it, look for it.

This is from the upcoming, and while it's got a bit of an abrasive quality to it (played over an episode of Designing Women on Becky's big screen), I will be on the lookout for the full release.

Song: "Magic Mountain"
Artist: The Drums

Friday, July 25, 2014

Song of the Day: "Georgia for This"

I'm a big fan of Erica Sunshine Lee--her sound and songwriting are both sharp, balancing a little glam country with some nice old school traditionalism (the feminist 70s old school traditionalism of Loretta Lynn).

As with Brad Paisley last year I'm getting too caught up in the lyrical precision of the song. Everything "west coast" she mentions in the song is true for Atlanta x 100. Probably plenty of folks in Athens and Savannah are drinking expensive lattes and wearing Lululemon yoga pants too.

So putting the lyrics aside, it's a great summer jam. Like a blueberry jam.

Song: "Georgia for This"
Artist: Erica Sunshine Lee

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Song of the Day: "Get Hurt"

The Gaslight Anthem move away from Arena Rock toward Arena Rock Ballad with this title track from next month's new album.

Song: "Get Hurt"
Artist: The Gaslight Anthem

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Song of the Day: "Klapp Klapp"

I ran across this watching an ad for the Milk app. The ad was filled with interesting music and this is the one that cut through all that.

That being said, I have no idea who Little Dragon is or what the song is about. Apparently it's satanic, filled with voodoo and also the only musicians who get signed to labels are all satanic. Which I think goes in the face of the "everyone in the music industry is a pawn of the Illuminati." Unless it doesn't. I've lost track (too many chemtrails).

Song: "Klapp Klapp"
Artist: Little Dragon

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Song of the Day: "Back to the Shack"

I haven't been all warm and fuzzy toward Weezer's most recent stuff.

Sometimes it takes a bit of time for a track to grow on me, but generally Rivers and me click right away. Not so much here, again.

But I have hope for the forthcoming Everything Will Be Alright in the End. There's just too much greatness in their decades of music for me not to have a bit of faith.

Song: "Back to the Shack"
Artist: Weezer

Monday, July 21, 2014

Song of the Day: "Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)"

Seen on a typical sunny day in Glasgow

A Sunny Day in Glasgow aren't from Scotland, but I appreciate that they appreciate the place.

I'm not familiar with the band even though this is their fourth album (which is weird since everyone knows the fourth album is generally the "oh, Rich totally already knows this band by now" album).

You probably don't either.

Or do you?

Song: "Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)"
Artist: A Sunny Day in Glasgow

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Song of the Day: "Hang Up"

Another new album from the Goth-father (Peter Murphy).

John disagrees with my use of the word overture to mean something akin to a musical thesis statement. But I think it works. In musicals the overture is a preview of what you'll be hearing. I mean that, but thematically.

In my definition, this is the overture for Lion, his latest album.

Song: "Hang Up"
Artist: Peter Murphy

Friday, July 18, 2014

Song of the Day: "Sanctuary"

Jody Watley's follow up to one of my singles of 2013. This has got a great downbeat groove to it.

Me likey!!!

Song: "Sanctuary"
Artist: Jody Watley

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Song of the Day: "Red Hand"

Remember a couple years ago when we were all jamming on Peter Hook-esque bass lines all year? Of course you do.

Well here's some more. It's Owl John, the dude from Frightened Rabbit, but you already already know that. And yes I meant to say already twice. That's how much you already know.

Song: "Red Hand"
Artist: Owl John

R.I.P. Elaine Stritch

I first recall Elaine Stritch back in 1987 when she was touted for a likely Academy Award nomination for Woody Allen's September (a movie that weaves together Uncle Vanya and the real-life killing of Johnny Stompanato by Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane). It's one of Allen's bleakest movie (along with Interiors). Stritch is great (I didn't know that Allen made the movie over, clearly disappointed with the original cast--Stritch was one of the new players). It also appears to be Allen's least successful movie at the box office, earning an estimated $985,300, which means that I am personally responsible for 0.0007% of the movie's theatrical take!!!

Unless that was the year I had that free movie pass. Oh, right, it was. I saw it in the theater but I didn't pay (my lovely mother having gotten me a wonderful Christmas gift in 1986: a limited edition charity fundraiser movie pass that got me plus a guest into any movie at nearly all theaters in Atlanta [except for shows Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight]... at $400 I think it paid for itself by May).

Regardless, I'm pretty sure I fell asleep and you've probably never seen it, so watch the clip.

The next time I recall Elaine Stritch is in 1996 when she is used as a hysterical punchline in David Dillon's play Party. The play, set at a party (coincidence? I think not!) involves a group of gay men playing a variant on Truth or Dare and  by the end of the play every member of the cast is naked. I've seen it 3 times (in Toronto, San Francisco and Portland) because I love theater!

The game involves everyone putting celebrity names in a hat and has to somehow elicit that celebrity's name without... fuck if I remember. Did I mention that cast was always naked by the end? Viva Toronto!

Oh, and to translate this for any heterosexuals reading this (as if), that's the equivalent of someone entering Dario Franchitti in the hat at a regular party.


That is a great line from her signature song from Company, "Ladies Who Lunch." Company earned her the third of her Tony nominations, way back in 1971. She was already 15 or 20 years into her career by then. Take that 5 year old me.

The best way to find out about Elaine Stritch is from her mouth, in Elaine Stritch Live at Liberty. The one woman show won a Tony for Special Theatrical Event (but she did not win a Tony--all 4 nominations ended in a loss) and earned her the second of her 3 Emmy awards (she also won for an episode of Law & Order and an episode of 30 Rock). Her she recounts her first date with Marlon Brando...

Here's the Emmy speech...

She's always played a mixture of imperious and vulnerable, used to perfection as Colleen in 30 Rock. She was brilliantly crazy and I think we can all appreciate that everyone's mother has a little Colleen in her. Even mine.

No testament to Elaine Stritch would be complete without her saying fuck to Kathie Lee Gifford.

Tonight I'll drink to Elaine.

And one for Mahler.

Rest in peace dude.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Song of the Day: "Double Life"

Suddenly things are busy at the new pie chart bakery... WHEE!!!!

Here's new music from Work Drugs. Their neuvo-yacht rock smoothness is inspiring.

Seems like Mavericks was just out and already Runaways is coming soon.

Song: "Double Life"
Artist: Work Drugs

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Song of the Day: "Southern Sun"

The song's a year old but I only just heard it and deemed it worthy of posting late.

It's got a late 70s/mid-90s vibe (where the latter paid homage to the former) like Gerry Rafferty or something.

Or something.

Song: "Southern Sun"
Artist: Boy & Bear

Monday, July 14, 2014

Song of the Day: "Milwaukee"

The Both is Aimee Mann and Ted Leo (or Ted Leo and Aimee Mann). I have tickets to see them both whenever they are there. Possibly next month.

I'm fans of both separately so hopefully this will be like Reese's Peanut Butter Cup stuff and not some example of a thing I disliked when people I like work together.

The Return of Jezebel James.

That was a total piece of shit.

Song: "Milwaukee"
Artist: Aimee Mann/Ted Leo

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Song of the Day: "Crazy Stupid Love"

Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love
unrelated to this song

Today's song comes via Big Gay John and is by Cheryl Crow Cole, a woman I've written about but never posted a song from, and Tinie Tempah, a dude I have. John says he really likes it except for Tempah's rapping.

Cheryl's life is complicated so I'll let you read it here. Highlight: she has a new fragrance coming out in August!

Song: "Crazy Stupid Love"
Artist: Cheryl Cole/Tinie Tempah

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Song of the Day: "Day is Gone"

I was having a difficult time finding this Emmy-nominated song from Justified, primarily because it's from Sons of Anarchy.

Apparently they are different shows.

This song is lovely. I don't know Noah Gunderson under that name but it's possible he's in a band, like Band of Horses or The Osmonds.

Song: "Day is Gone"
Artist: Noah Gunderson

Friday, July 11, 2014

Song of the Day: "(Do It On My) Twin Bed"

An Emmy-nominated song from Saturday Night Live--they've had great luck in the category recently so maybe Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, and 3 other non-performers (Eli Brueggemann, Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider) have a shot at a win.

The opener from the Tonys is the only other song I'm familiar with and I don't have a strong preference between the 2... yet.

Song: "(Do It On My) Twin Bed"
Artist: Cast of Saturday Night Live

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Song of the Day: "I'm Not a Part of Me"

Not sure how Cloud Nothings crossed my path. I've never posted them as a song of the day but that doesn't mean I haven't heard them. This is from Here and Nowhere Else their fourth album.

But you probably already knew that.

Song: "I'm Not a Part of Me"
Artist: Cloud Nothings

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An Update on the Summer of George of Rich

For those of you following along at home (or at work, on a train, in a library, what have you), this is the Summer of George of Rich. The Yankees haven't given me 3 months off with pay, which I find quite rude, but whatever.

Here's what's gone down since my third "last day" at the pie chart bakery:

  • walked another 5k (the third is Sunday)
  • hosted Smith's going away thing packing 20 people in my living room and overstimulating Willy
  • adopted Smith's lesser bicycle which I picked up from the shop yesterday and can ride as soon as today although the helmet I ordered for my super deluxe giant head won't be in until later this week
  • got a FitBit One which I'm wearing on a lanyard (a Georgia State University lanyard because I had time to hit the bookstore on Monday on my way to the pie chart bakery in Atlanta to see some peeps)--btw, who's coming to see GSU get destroyed by the Ducks in Eugene with me next year?
  • invented mojito watermelon salad (watermelon and strawberries soaked in a mojito)
  • perfected mojito watermelon salad (watermelon, casaba melon and strawberries soaked in a mojito)
  • saw Cher and Cyndi Lauper in concert
  • expanded my countertop options from 4 to 17 (note: this is not a good thing)
  • bought a sledge hammer and 2 dumpster bags (I know, but they explain it here
  • saw X-Men Days of Future Past, 22 Jump Street and... wait, is that it? I thought there was at least one more
  • got tickets for a slew of shows through the summer (need to get Avett Brothers tickets)
  • went to Atlanta and saw my sisters (who both look great), 3 nephews (who all look great), some significant others (who are pretty and look eerily similar but that's just me) and 1 each grand niece and grand nephew (who are too fucking adorable for words); saw Saade & family; saw Sonya & Archie & sis; saw 3 deer and 2 bunnies; went to Dr. Robert's surprise 50th party (drank eleventy seven Long Islands) and closed the joint down and closed the after party down without even a disco nap; and hit the GSU bookstore for my sticker and got some other swag; and had lunch with the Atlanta pie chart bakery peeps; then had a pedicure before I caught my flight home
  • had lunch with Steph (and drank some Long Islands)
  • discovered the world's greatest (and second greatest) ice cream sandwiches
  • visited with Kelly VV and the latest in her whole "baby" thing (and invented a drink we'll call the Suburban Sling: ginger-infused vodka and blueberry lemonade... it doesn't suck)
  • hosted Lisa the doggy mommy from Denver for a week
  • took some naps
  • watched some stupid movies and some not bad movies on the TV
  • saw a couple of Gilmore Girls episodes, but not nearly enough

I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff but gotta shower for my breakfast date.

Song of the Day: "Turn Down for What"

There's a big debate over song of the summer. I'll take this over that other one any day (although technically I've never heard the other one).

Song: "Turn Down for What"
Artist: DJ Snake/Lil Jon

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Song of the Day: "She Came to Give it to You"

"There ain't no shortcuts to doing something right"

Maybe there's a message in there.

Rock it Usher!

Song: "She Came to Give it to You"
Artist: Usher/Nicki Minaj

Monday, July 7, 2014

Song of the Day: "Tough Love"

It's been a year since I posted a track from Jessie Ware. I've kinda forgotten about her which seems to have been the problem the Fabulous Clinton (who is fabulous) experienced last year. Poor gal.

Song: "Tough Love"
Artist: Jessie Ware

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Song of the Day: "Judas Decapitation"

We haven't checked in with Say Anything in a couple of years and Hebrews seems to be a new, more mature sound while still retaining its exuberance. Rock on dude!

Song: "Judas Decapitation"
Artist: Say Anything

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Song of the Day: "Do You"

Summer hits Portland on July 5th and this may be the jam of the summer. Perfect (lucky) timing.

New Spoon. Learn to love it now.

Song: "Do You"
Artist: Spoon

Friday, July 4, 2014

Song of the Day: "Once Upon a Dream"

Lana del Taco Rey reworks this classic from Sleeping Beauty.

I'm not a huge fan of LdR but this is nice and moody and perfect for Maleficent from which it's taken. So well done, all.  

Song: "Once Upon a Dream"
Artist: Lana del Rey

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Song of the Day: "Heavenly Father"

I'm starting a series of songs that I'm posting on Wednesday evening and scheduling  through the rest of the weekend. I leave for Atlanta in the morning, back next Monday. If you're in Atlanta and see me, it's not a dream. Say hi sometime.

It's a surgical strike so if you didn't see me don't take it personally. Except you didn't rate for this short, specific trip.

Oh hey, this is Bon Iver from the new Zach Braff mix tape. It sounds different from "Perth" and all the other songs that sounded like "Perth" on the last album.

Song: "Heavenly Father"
Artist: Bon Iver

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Song of the Day: "Lovers on the Run"

Meteorites, the 12th album from Echo & the Bunnymen is barely a month old. It's been 5 years since their last studio outing. None of this really means anything, I'm just typing to have some text before the embedded video.

The song doesn't suck, by the way.

Song: "Lovers on the Run"
Artist: Echo & the Bunnymen

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Song of the Day: "Ginsburg's Hobby Lobby Dissent"

God damn this is awesome. Jonathan Mann, as part of his song-a-day project, has turned Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby into a fantastic, inspiration ode.

Love her, just learning of him. This could be a lasting friendship. (UPDATE: I paid and downloaded an EP from him yesterday--solid stuff.)

Song: "Ginsburg's Hobby Lobby Dissent"
Artist: Jonathan Mann

Monday, June 30, 2014

Song of the Day: "Leave Me Out"

Dude hit me up on Twitter yesterday and now he's song of the day. Sometimes it's just that simple.

Not my favorite mc but some dope beats and I'd happily play this in the chill out tent.

If I ever DJ at a chill out tent.

Song: "Leave Me Out"
Artist: Passport Lewis

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Gary Busey

The man is crazy but at least he knows it. I love his Amazon Fire ads (outtakes here). It takes a special confidence to poke fun at yourself (I learned this from Sonny Bono [not directly from him though]).

Twentyish years ago he earned a special respect from me for back-to-back performances in The Firm and Under Siege. I like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but don't remember him in it. I might need to see Point Break.

If you haven't seen these movies, check 'em out.

The Firm

Under Siege

These clips don't do his performances justice, by the way.

EGOT love? An Oscar nomination for The Buddy Holly Story. A Cable ACE award for an episode of The Hitcher.

He's also dad of Jake Busey, almost seen here in a still from the classic Starship Troopers.
I think that's his bicep on the left but maybe not. Still, beefcake.

And seen here, penis obscured by shower thingy.
He's no Casper Van Dien or even a Josh Brolin. That's what the dimer switch is for.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Conviction"

I was curious to see a new album from Meshell Ndegeocello (NOTE: I am almost certain her name once had a few apostrophes and possible some stylized thing where a letter in the middle of one name was also capitalized, then I found out her real name is Michelle Johnson so I'm not super concerned with spelling--she's using this spelling now and I'm okay with that)--not that I'm a huge fan of hers but she makes some interesting music. You've probably heard her duet with Mellencamp, the cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" but have you heard "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)" or "Leviticus: Faggot" (put the shocking title aside, the song is a fucking jam) or the Quiet Storm perfection of "Trust"?

I flirted with her cover of Whodini's "Friends" and the track "Forget My Name" but neither pushed my buttons. But this track's got a confident musicality that I'm jamming on. I'm taking this over posting something from Trey Songz, in case you're curious.

And even if you're note, it's a true fact.

Song: "Conviction"
Artist: Meshell Ndegeocello

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Song of the Day: "Back in the World"

David Gray.

"Babylon" is my jam.

Can he ever achieve such brilliance again?

We shall see.

We shall see...

Song: "Back in the World"
Artist: David Gray

Friday, June 27, 2014

Song of the Day: "Let it Burn"

Becky tipped me off to The Orwells (or she was being killed by them and left me a clue to that) in the comments of another of my blog posts.

Judging by the hair and the zebra print belt I'm wondering if Warrant decided to become a Jason and the Scorchers tribute band (whilst drinking a shitload of youth elixir, naturally).

This isn't bad. Aside from the fucking skinny jeans. Of course all jeans are skinny jeans to me. Take that Michelle Obama.

Song: "Let it Burn"
Artist: The Orwells

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Song of the Day: "A Million Ways to Die"

The song from the movie with that guy what I hear is NOT as funny as the Ted which I thought was funny as shit.

But once again he rescues an obscure entertainer from the very early 80s. This time, Alan Jackson, the forgotten Jackson family member.

He had the vitiligo real bad.

Real bad.

Song: "A Million Ways to Die"
Artist: Alan Jackson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Song of the Day: "Get Her Back"

There's no way the break up between Robin Thicke and Paula Patton, and his subsequent attempt to woo her back, the album Paula and this track, are all a calculated publicity stunt for all parties.


How can I be so sure?

Because the mere suggestion is cynical and I am never ever cynical.

Or this isn't me writing this. Did you even think about that?

No you did not.

Maybe you should check on me.

Song: "Get Her Back"
Artist: Robin Thicke

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For Your Consideration: Scott Thompson

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, The Colbert Report

Colbert really should compete for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, given how thoroughly he plays the buffoon character of pundit Colbert. But he's got enough Emmys and Thompson has none (he and Foley were nominated 3 times for writing for Kids in the Hall with Foley nominated for voice over work on Prep and Landing).

Including Buddy Cole in Putin's anti-gay laws during the Olympics was wonderfully subversive. Especially the protest chant of "I want a drink!"

For You Consideration: Dave Foley

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, Hot in Cleveland

During the run of News Radio Foley had to be the straight man to an array of kooky characters. On Hot in Cleveland he goes bombastic with a role of, honestly I have no idea who he represents, but he sounds like Futurama's Zapp Brannigan come to life.

Check him out in the live episode I loved so much.

Here he ad libs and forces Valerie Bertinelli to break character. Funny as shit.

Song of the Day: "Face Again"

It seems like just yesterday, when it was actually December 2012, when we last hung (hanged) with How to Dress Well. He wasn't Prince then and he isn't Prince now and still, fuck Prince.

This track, of How to Dress Well's third LP (an album Pitchfork calls "a pop album of the highest caliber") has a moody urgency to its smooth R&B groove. Me likey.

Song: "Face Again"
Artist: How to Dress Well