Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Monday, May 27, 2024

Happy Birthday, Siouxsie Sioux

Today marks the birthday of Susan Janet Ballion, better known as Siouxsie Sioux of the bands Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Creatures.  And, recently, a solo performer.  

We've been fans of Siouxsie since the video for Peek-a-Boo hit MTV.  And we still think Peepshow is a killer album.

Sioux recently did some dates in Europe.  It's unclear if she's thinking of a longer tour or hitting the US.  If not, fair enough.  But it would be great to see her again.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Richard Sherman Merges With The Infinite

Songwriter and musician Richard Sherman has passed at the age of 95.

Sherman was one half of The Sherman Bros., who co-wrote some of the most familiar songs in the world, including "It's a Small World (After All)" for Walt Disney, and songs for Mary Poppins and Jungle Book.  They worked on stage musicals, screenplays, and wrote music for Disney parks, including "There's a Great Big, Beautiful Tomorrow" and, of course the music for the Tiki Room.

In recent years, Sherman was treated as a Disney emeritus, and would often consult on their re-makes of films he's worked on, like Jungle Book and for Mary Poppins Returns.  

Our pal NathanC, in his professional capacity at Texas Public Radio, interviewed Sherman a few years ago.  You can listen by clicking here.  Or read it here.

Doc Watch: Lolla - The Story of Lollapalooza (2024)

Watched:  05/24/2024
Format:  Paramount+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Michael John Warren

I just recently wound up writing about Lollapalooza and music festivals over on my more "personal journal" blog, League of Melbotis.  Originally the post was about ACL Fest and fading interest in festivals, but I was half-way through with the post when I saw an ad for Lolla (2024), a documentary tracking Lollapalooza from it's late-80's origins to today and into tomorrow.  I'd started the post talking about that festival as well as ACL Fest, so it's all of a piece.

This evening we went ahead and blasted through the three sections of the doc, each about 50 minutes, for our Friday night viewing.  

For a fuller picture, do check out that post at LoM.  But the key points include the fact I was a fresh-faced 16 year old when I attended the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991, and attended the first four years. 

To begin with: The doc has a lot of constraints.  It needs the involvement of the people who were there in the past, it needs the partnership of the people who currently work with and own Lollapalooza (Austin's own C3 Entertainment), and it's distributed by MTV parent company, Paramount, who lent a lot of material to the film.  For all those shackles, I think they *mostly* do a solid job of painting at least an interesting and accurate historical portrait.  It's just when you get to the modern era that I kind of side-eye the doc as propaganda.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Happy Birthday, David Byrne

I very much remember the first time I heard or saw Talking Heads - because the two happened at the same time.  I would assume it was sometime in 1983 that the video dropped for Burning Down the House on MTV.  This would have made me about 9 years old, and it didn't take much to sell me on a video or song, but the band appearing in white tuxedos in what looked like a ballroom in a shoebox, and absolutely kicking ass - while also being replaced in some shots by folks who were *not them* in white tuxedos, did not need any literal translation.  It just made sense.

At the front of the band was a wild eyed man who looked like no other front-man in rock and roll.  He was thin, almost gaunt, with slicked dark hair and committed to the bit.  And in a landscape of Europop, American rock like Journey and Springsteen, and even the hints of punk that made its way to MTV, it was like seeing your awkward high school chemistry teacher strap on a guitar.

Radio play and MTV were enough for me.  I was into them, but I was also a kid happy with whatever form I was getting music.   I was aware from 4th grade that Talking Heads were not in step with the pop music scene, were not fitting neatly into any categories, but did their own thing.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

J Lo Opus Watch: This Is Me... Now - A Love Story (2024)

Watched:  04/19/2024
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Dave Meyers
Selection:  K

One of the things they'll tell you in some creative writing classes is "write what you know", but they'll also tell you "don't write a story based on your life and just swap the names out, because now people reacting to a story are reacting to you".  JLo did not receive this advice.

So, what happens when a person who has been wildly successful for decades for things she got good at in her mid-20's, and who lives mostly surrounded by sycophants, decides they want to pen a not-at-all disguised analog of their autobiography as a sort of Moonwalker-esque extravaganza?  

There is *a lot* going on in This is Me... Now (2024), the sort-of-film/ musical video montage/ visual media spectacle which is 100% the creative product of Jennifer Lopez and everything that suggests.

Spoilers:  It will not make you walk away thinking "wow, she's a humble, grounded person" in any way.  And not even really in the fun way that you watch Mariah Carey passing through this plane.  But the thing is absolutely, mind-bogglingly engaging.  You simply cannot believe this thing exists, and with all the resources (her own money!) spent on it, that this is what JLo decided to do.

And I cannot recommend it enough.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Jamie's B-Day Watch: The Sound of Music (1965)

Watched:  03/25/2024
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Robert Wise
Selection:  Jamie's birthday choice!

I have no idea when I last watched The Sound of Music (1965).  I've documented most of the movie's I've seen since 2012 - with a break in 2013-2014.  So it's possible I watched it in that window, because it seems like I've seen it more recently than 2011.  Or I just forgot to write it up.  That happens.

It's probably a fool's errand to talk about the movie at length.  It's a bonafide classic, one of the two great American musicals directed by Robert Wise, and the music has permeated culture far beyond the boundaries of the film.  A Few of My Favorite Things has somehow become a Christmas song, which, sure.  Why not?

From a personal standpoint, when I watch this movie, I am about 75% sure this is what my mom wanted out of having kids.  Matching outfits, adventures, happiness and singing.  And while she did an amazing job of mothering, she still wound up with two sarcastic, grumpy, gigantic boys who kind of moseyed through family adventures with a grunt and an eyeroll.  Sorry, Ma.

The Sound of Music is based (extremely loosely) on the real life Family Von Trapp, who were an Austrian family who left their homeland after Hitler invaded.  It was, in it's own way, as dramatic as anything, but also not the short, exciting escape depicted in the film.

It is worth going back and watching for a few reasons.  1)  If your memory of the films is essentially kids prancing around the hills with their governess, it means the last time you saw this movie you went to bed at Intermission.  2)  Putting those songs from the musical into the narrative context of the film is kind of a good idea.  It also tells you a lot about how a musical is supposed to work.  3)  The movie is just masterfully choreographed and shot - and edited.  The entire film looks phenomenal, and clearly no expense was spared for locations, camera placement, time on location, extras, etc...  But also the framing and use of visual language in this movie is kind of mind-boggling.  Check out the Do-Re-Me sequence.  It's phenomenally well done for everything it conveys and the way it's shot and edited.  4) It's not much fun to think about vis-a-vis parallels to current threats to democracy, but at least the Georg in this movie is deeply anti-Nazi and sees the tide rising while everyone else kind of rolls over.  5)  The Lonely Goatherd is an all-time banger.

Watching the film now, I'm always probably more sympathetic than the film wants me to be to the Baroness, who gets tossed aside for the virginal manic pixie dream-nun.  Also, God bless 'em, but they shouldn't have cast the late Charmain Carr as the naive, 16-year old Liesl.  She was probably 21 or 22, looks 24, and it's almost visually confusing seeing her with the actual children.  Meanwhile, a near-30-year-old Julie Andrews is playing a novice, so I'd guess she *should* about 18 or so.  And, btw, Christopher Plummer was about 13 years older than Carr and barely older than Andrews.*  And he's 7 years younger than Eleanor Parker, who plays the Baroness.**  Anyway, once you look at it again, the movie can feel a wee bit jarring and I don't know the in's and out's of why they cast who they did.  

Still, if you want to absolutely want to cock-punch a dude named Rolfe, this is the movie for you.  (man, Rolfe just sucks so fucking bad.  Liesl, NO.)

This is a Robert Wise movie, and I'm going to just keep saying "Robert Wise does not make bad movies".

Anyhoo, I *do* think we're hitting an interesting point as the Gen-Z kids haven't been part of the ritual of watching The Sound of Music on TV once a year or so, and generally people don't really talk about movies with their kids.  So while I'm sure a percentage will have seen this movie, it's no longer the cultural shorthand it was.  And actual Nazis probably seem a whole lot more like something out of a movie than actual people we'd been at war with 20 years prior to the release of this movie.

*apparently the real-life age gap between Georg and Maria was 25 years
**Parker had been in her career peek from the mid-1940's to the mid-50's, but was working consistently til about 1990.  She was the established star in the movie with Academy Awards and whatnot, and she just kills it in this film.  And is not funny looking.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Musical Watch: The Color Purple (2023)

Watched:  03/09/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Blitz Bazawule

You know, if the world doesn't need something, it's a white dude from the Texas 'burbs sliding in and commenting on The Color Purple (2023).  I mean, the novel is an American classic, the Whoopi Goldberg/ Oprah Winfrey/ Spielberg movie is a classic, the play has run forever...  I got nothing.  This is a great and important story at its core, or it wouldn't still be around.

I will say - the cast is mind-boggling, but that's going to happen.  And I couldn't believe the money clearly behind this thing.  Huge cast.  Period settings.  Choreography, etc...

Anyway.  I really, really liked it.  If your biggest problem is "Fantasia Barrino isn't funny looking enough for what people keep saying" (she isn't funny looking at all), that ain't bad.  Also - I now know why Domingo Coleman has been all over the place at awards shows.

I'm not sure it replaces the Spielberg movie in anyone's mind, and certainly not the novel, but it's great it exists.  It kinda got screwed at the Oscars, yeah?

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Doc Watch: The Greatest Night in Pop (2024)

Watched:  02/14/2024
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Bao Nguyen
Selection:  Jamie

I was 9 years old (about to be 10) when "We Are the World" hit the airwaves.  And then played non-stop for what seemed to be about 6 months to a year.  I can't say when I first heard the song or saw the video, but I do remember unloading the car when my mom came home from shopping (that was one of our chores) and a copy of the vinyl record being in the back of the van.  

I also recall either that year or the next school year being brought into the cafetorium at Spicewood Elementary where we were shown a "making of" doc about the song and the famine in Ethiopia and nearby countries.  (This was the 1980's, VCRs were newish, and teachers were always finding some reason to show a film).  

We're almost 40 years out from the release of the record, so a lot has changed in that time.  And a lot of people have passed.*  And it's hard for me to imagine what this would look like now.  Do musicians even still do benefit work like this, or has streaming killed the potential for raising money?

But the doc, The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) - now on Netflix - is a neat exploration of what happened and why, how it came together and the bumps along the way.  

The film relies on first-hand accounts, pulling in top-tier talent that participated, from Bruce Sprinsteen to one of the masterminds, Lionel Richie.  And, because it was so star-studded, it also features a treasury of video shot from the event of the recording.  

Unfortunately, some of the key players either weren't available for a sit-down (Quincy Jones) or were very not available for a sit-down (Michael Jackson).  But you do get a very good picture of what it must have been like for the people who walked into the room, using interviews with Cindy Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Sheila E., to the camera crew and engineer.

Sometimes you watch a doc and they talk about the situation and the huge impact it had, and you know they're kind of playing it up.  After all, no one wants to watch a doc and at the end they're like "well, it didn't really work out that great."  But USA for Africa, at worst, raised awareness for how people could take action and not just be told that people were starving, and wasn't that too bad.  At best, it did get nutrional support to the people affected by the famine, as well as medicine and other aid.

From the point of view of the doc and the unique event that was USA for Africa, it's absolutely worth watching just to see all of these people in the same room, minus their support staffs and all the trappings of top-tier rock stardom in the 1980's.  It's not like "We Are the World" is still played on the radio, and it's been a minute since I didn't just say "oh, that's the song" and then mentally tune out again.  I'd forgotten you have Bob Dylan in the room, for example.  

But it's human without getting weird, and you're reminded - much as with the Beatles doc - these are people.  And in the 1980's, the media machine really wanted us to forget that pop stars were just good singers in funny clothes.  

When you're a kid, rock stars seem like a permanent fixture.  I didn't think of Huey Lewis as a *new* thing or that he might be star struck being in the room with these people.  But, really, aside from seeing each other at awards shows where they don't *really* interact all that much, when would this many people get together?  When do you get Ray Charles and Kenny Rogers sharing air? Or Dionne Warwick and Willie Nelson sharing a verse?

The doc has it's truly shining moments, and I won't spoil them.  It never does explain why Dan Aykroyd was there - and that someone specifically tried to get him is all the more baffling.  It also doesn't dwell on who wasn't there - beyond Prince.  But for every huge celeb, we're missing a Madonna.  But I also appreciate that they didn't talk about why people were left out.

Anyway, it's a fun one to watch.  

But, seriously, it's weird this didn't become an annual sort of thing. 

*we miss you, Tina  

Monday, January 8, 2024

Happy Birthday, David Bowie

Here's to the great David Bowie on his birthday.  

The picture above is from about 2004, which is around when Jamie and I saw him in concert for the second time.  

What struck me about that show was how different it was from when I'd seen him on the Outside tour, where he was doing a thing tied to the music, and was being a very serious rock god.  In 2004, he was playing new stuff and playing the hits and having fun bantering.  Which, in it's own way, was kind of weird as it so defied my expectations.  But, man, it was a fun show.  

Here's to the The Thin White Duke.  The world literally hasn't been the same since we lost him.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas Eve from The Signal Watch

Merry Christmas, pals.  

I don't think many of you are online on Christmas Eve, and that's a good thing.  But if you are online, Jamie and I wish you the very best.   May your night be merry and bright.

One exciting bit this Christmas has been the Apple+ special, Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas.  We're Waddingham fans, and hope you are, too.  Anyway, enjoy her belting out "O, Holy Night".

And as we wrap each Christmas Eve here at The Signal Watch, please give Ms. Darlene Love a listen - this year, with Cher!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Holiday Classic Watch: Holiday Inn (1942)

Watched:  12/04/2023
Format:  Prime
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Mark Sadnrich

My understanding is that this movie, released in August of 1942, landed hard with Americans as we were facing the reality of what was going to be a long and deadly war on two fronts.  More specifically, this movie features the screen debut of "White Christmas" (he's sung it on the radio post-Pearl Harbor in 1941), which Bing Crosby would turn into the best selling single of all time with 50 million copies ringing up the tils as it became a sort of anthem for wishing for a return to normalcy.  

Holiday Inn (1942) is a story about a musical trio breaking up as the singer (Crosby) and the girl are breaking off to start a new life running a farm in Connecticut when the girl runs off with the dancer (Fred Astaire) to pursue dreams of stage glory.  Crosby eventually turns the farm into an inn where he can put on shows, just on holidays, trading the dream of stardom in exchange for just having a bit of fun every once in a while.  

Along comes a new girl, and a series of shows for every holiday starting with New Year (after introducing "White Christmas" during the meet-cute).  Meanwhile, Astaire is dumped and returns to the Inn, and begins pursuing the new girl whom Crosby has fallen hard for.

Anyway, the story is just a framework for Bing Crosby to dooby-doo his way through songs and Astaire to knock your socks off.  Unfortunately, I don't think it leaves you feeling particularly great about a single person on screen except for Crosby's chef, played by Louise Beavers.  

There is mention of the war during the WWII sequence as the movie pauses to reflect on what we're fighting for in song, and shows film of our militarization and FDR at the mic.  While the film exists as light entertainment, its hard to imagine what July 4, 1942 was actually like as the country leaned into what was clearly going to be a multi-year effort in which we'd lose countless servicemen and women.  But what is apparently true is that Pearl Harbor occurred during filming and they decided to really step up the July 4th sequence.

It is likely you've heard several songs from this movie over the years.  "Easter Parade" gets trotted out.  And it's worth mentioning Crosby would team with Danny Kaye for the 1954 classic White Christmas while Astaire would beat him to the punch with 1948's Easter Parade.

I was surprised to see the version on Amazon Prime retains the blackface number (Lincoln's Birthday).  Though I remember seeing it on my TV Christmas of 1994 when I first watched the movie, basic cable cut the number decades ago.  And, yes, it is that bad.  It's also a plot point, so the movie can be marginally confusing without the number, but to keep it in...   Look, I am not going to tell you what should or should not offend you or what criteria should be used to play or not play a film.  I am fine with cable cutting the sequence to keep the film out there, and from an historical perspective, the movie is a reflection of the time in which it was made.  As film fan and historian, yes, keep it in.  As a person who knows this is f'd up, and always was - you can skip the movie altogether if you like.  There are clips of not-offensive scenes on YouTube.  Or, jump over the scene whilst watching.  You do what works for you.

We chose to ffwd through the sequence once we realized it was there.  I've seen it, don't need to see it again.  

There's a whole discussion to be had about how it seems the younger generation wants to deal with older media, and that's to stuff it down the memory hole.  And I'll argue some film historians are currently trying to make it seem that very-mainstream-Hollywood was out of step with the general attitudes of the public at the time of a film's release, something I think there's more than ample evidence to suggest is not true.  We can discuss at some point, but that's a lot to hash out.*

What it does mean is that Holiday Inn is a fascinating bit of history in a single Christmas movie.  The film spun off multiple hit singles we still know, it sold people on the idea of secular Christmas songs, it does some crazy stuff where part of the illusion in the film's final minutes is *showing* the pulleys and levers of the illusion right out in the open to create a secondary illusion (and showing how films were made in 1942).  It shows some really depressing racism, sexism, etc... and it's a time capsule containing war propaganda. 

Plus, two of the biggest stars of the era.  Happy Holidays, film lovers.

*this is 78 years after *slavery*, and 6 after Gone With the Wind.  It's not just your elderly relatives that were just wildly racist.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Concert Film Watch: Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984)

Watched:  10/08/2023
Format:  Alamo
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Jonathan Demme

I very much remember seeing the video for Burning Down the House on MTV at a neighbor's house in elementary school.  We watched a lot of MTV while hanging out in their living room, and so I became familiar with bands as much through visuals as the music.  And even in those early years of MTV, Talking Heads knew how to take advantage of film medium from jump.  

Over the years, I became more of a Talking Heads fan, picking up Naked on the say-so of a clerk at a music and video store near my house.  I'd asked "okay, so, what's new that's in that you'd recommend" and this guy looked at this dumb-looking 8th grader and decided to take the Pepsi Challenge, I guess, offering me that tape.  Well, I bought it and I loved it.

I slowly picked up all the Talking Heads output, and by college, had a subway poster of the band hanging in my room when that was still a thing young people did. 

In 1984, Talking Heads had teamed with director Jonathan Demme to produce a concert film.  I was aware of the movie mostly because my 4th grade art teacher had played it during class.*  No, I have no idea how he had a copy.  I guess they were selling them at record stores.  But he used it to try to explain art could be music and film, which was not a lesson my classmates were particularly ready for.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Hey. My pal made an EP. Give it a listen!

I take a tremendous amount of joy in the diverse creative endeavors of my pals.  

This evening, my longtime chum, Matt M., sent me an email informing me he'd released an EP.

It's excellent ambient stuff.  Give it a spin!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Material Watch: Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)

Watched:  07/22/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Alek Kesheshian

It's probably a cultural bellwether that the biggest name in music right now is Taylor Swift, who is a fine singer/ songwriter and who is about as challenging as a pair of fuzzy socks.  Like, I get that she speaks to the suburban experience like no one's business, but she's not exactly out there getting angry notes from the Pope.

But not so Madonna circa 1990 when this documentary was shot and subsequently released.  The Material Girl was not poking anyone in the eye, but she was giddily pushing the envelope enough that she was constantly getting free publicity from outraged pearl clutchers.

I was something of a secret Madonna fan around the time this movie came out.  Attempting a persona as a fan of music which sat outside of pop and the Top 40, I didn't advertise that I knew all the words to La Isla Bonita.  That said, it was expected you'd seen Madonna's videos and knew her songs as both were inescapable through the mid 80's to the mid-90's.  And I wasn't avoiding Madonna.  She, uh, was not funny looking, and her songs were catchy, and on the radio, fairly non-threatening.  And, right out of the gate, she started with Like a Virgin, which always felt like it should be dirty, but you had to make it so, and so it landed on regular MTV rotation.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Icon and Legend Tina Turner Has Merged With the Infinite

In the fall of 1996 I was at a party at Jamie's apartment, and someone said something about Tina Turner being passe, and - in the way only the right number of cocktails can steer you - I found myself giving an impassioned speech about the history, legacy and import of Tina Turner, and that we were lucky to share the planet with her.  

I swear to god, I hadn't thought that hard about Tina Turner since sorting through the lyrics to Private Dancer as a kid.  I hadn't ever even see What's Love Got To Do With It? because the idea of watching an entertainer I enjoy get beaten by fucking Ike Turner was in no way appealing.  I should have seen it (still haven't for same reason.  Fuck Ike Turner.)

I guess the speech stuck with Jamie, because a few months later she produced Tina Turner tickets for us to see her at the Alamodome in San Antonio.  And, friends, that show was amazing.

The crowd was made up of all demographics.  I had never seen the concept of "dress" before, but it was on full display there (I was a dopey 22 year old in college-kid concert clothes) and I immediately got it and was aware I was improperly attired.  Folks from the aged to children were in attendance.  And Jamie had bought seats at about the 13th row, dead-center facing the stage.  The view was phenomenal.

I still think about that show and Nutbush City Limits maybe once a month.  And GoldenEye, because, I mean, y'all know me and Bond and Bond themes, and it was wildly sexy, to boot.

In 1984 when Turner exploded back into the pop culture consciousness with the single and video for What's Love Got To Do With It?, I was 9 and pretty much unaware of who she was.  I think she'd been on MTV for a while when my dad made mention of "Oh, Tina Turner" and I got that she was not a new act and this was, in fact, a sort of return to prominence for the artist.  I sort of vaguely had ideas of what her stage show and persona had been via descriptions from people, but this was all years before YouTube, and so it wasn't until the film came out that I got what she'd been with Ike when TV ran clips.

And then, of course, YouTube had clips pretty early on.  

Man, she's just amazing

Admittedly, maybe I should have watched that movie because it wasn't until the 2021 documentary Tina was released that I got the full picture of Turner's life, and of the abuse and career devastation that followed until 1984.  I highly recommend the doc, which we discussed when it was released.

Turner was so popular that I never bothered to buy her records until the aforementioned concert.  She was just on the radio all the time or on VH1 and MTV.  I find it odd that she doesn't get the same play as other 1980's and 1990's artists on oldies stations as she was so a part of the soundtrack of everyday life for so long, and I don't quite get how she's been shelved to the point where I'm not sure folks ten years younger than me get who she was and the scope of her stardom.  But she'd also pivoted out of the world of R&B to rock in the 1980's, and that's probably a whole other discussion about rock's legacy.

I'm the guy who thinks she was awesome in Thunderdome, and was welcome wherever she showed up.  If I can recommend one record to get, or put on your streaming service of choice, it's Simply the Best.  Which is a greatest hits which prominently features one of her best hits, The Best.*  Which has been my favorite Turner song for 25 years now.  Wowsers.

I can't put my finger on exactly what I liked about Turner.  Clearly the stage show I saw cemented her in my mind.  But her voice was perfect for both rock and R&B.  Her presence was elegant and exuberant at the same time.  She was gorgeous and could dance like mad.  Really, she was one of the most complete packages of American musical performance talent I can think of.

Turner married a Swiss gentleman quite some time ago, and the pair retired to Switzerland in more recent years.  Tina did her farewell tour and sort of stuck to it.  I salute that.  

In 2021, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  There's a musical based on her life that's a Broadway show that's now also touring.  

I don't think Turner is anywhere near forgotten or will be.  Her place is secure for the next several decades.  

But, yeah, I'm crushed to hear of her passing.  She was the best.

Y'all take some time and listen to some Tina tonight.

*which, yes, Schitt's Creek took the song and made it their own

Sunday, May 14, 2023

We Watched Eurovision 2023 (from the US. Texas, no less.)

I will be accused of only watching Eurovision 2023 because this edition was co-hosted by actor/ singer/ performer Hannah Waddingham of Ted Lasso fame.  First - how dare you.  Second - she looked amazing.

We've all heard of Eurovision, but until recently, it didn't air here in the US that I'm aware of.  In recent years we'd see twitter going bananas for it, but it was during daylight and work hours in the US, and it was very unclear what was occurring over there.  But folks of all ages and walks of life seemed into it, so I think that piqued the curiosity of some of us.

Right at the start of COVID, I remember watching the Eurovision movie starring Will Ferrell, and it gave me *some* clue as to what was happening and how it worked, but, honestly, raised more questions than it answered.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Harry Belafonte Has Merged With The Infinite

Actor, singer, activist and icon Harry Belafonte has passed at the age of 96.

Belafonte appeared in innumerable films, on television and was a popular recording artist.  Because I grew up in the shadow of his peak era as a performer, I knew him as a curious mix of "the guy who sang the Banana Boat song" and who would appear on television to weigh in on important topical issues - and be taken seriously.  Which is not something then or now that I or the culture give many celebrities leeway.  But as a player in the civil rights movement, Belafonte carried the torch forward for his entire life.

It was in college I came to understand his role as a Black man in film, and his broad appeal as a performer that helped him speak to everyone.  Of course, my first exposure to Belafonte was probably his appearance on The Muppet Show, which is a curiously moving episode.  

Here's to Mr. Belafonte, who fought the good fight.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2023


"Cold Little Heart"
Michael Kiwanuka

Did you ever want it?
Did you want it bad?
Oh my, it tears me apart

Did you ever fight it?
All of the pain
So much pride
Running through my veins

Bleeding, I'm bleeding!
My cold little heart
Oh I, I can't stand myself

And I know in my heart
In this cold heart
I can live or I can die
I believe if I just try
You believe in you and I

In you and I
In you and I
In you and I

Did you ever notice
I've been ashamed?
All my life
I've been playing games

We can try to hide it
It's all the same
I've been losing you
One day at a time

Bleeding, I'm bleeding!
My cold little heart
Oh I, I can't stand myself

And I know in my heart
In this cold heart
I can live or I can die
I believe if I just try
You believe in you and I

In my heart, in this cold heart
I can live or I can die
I believe if I just try
You believe in you and I

In you and I
In you and I
In you and I
In you and I

In you and I
In you and I
In you and I

Maybe this time I can be strong
But since I know who I am
I'm probably wrong

Maybe this time I can go far
Thinking about where I've been
Ain't helping me start

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Musical Watch: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Watched:  03/25/2023
Format:  YouTube
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Howard Hawks

Just a heads-up:  this movie is streaming for free on YouTube right now.  If you've never seen it, give it a whirl.  

I'm going to keep this short because maybe 2/3rds of the way through this viewing, I realized this would be a fine movie to podcast sometime.  So, regular podcast contributors, hit me up if you want in.

It's funny - for a movie that's very, very famous, I don't see the actual story or characters of the movie discussed all that much, let alone the themes, subversions, etc...  Maybe I just hang in the wrong circles.  They focus on Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, which, fair enough...   Monroe redefined sexiness for the Western world in a single musical number.  But the whole movie is solid, smart and @#$%ing funny.

Anyway, if you happen to think Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are a generally good idea (and I do), this may be the movie for you.

greatest walking to a table scene ever put to film

Saturday, March 11, 2023

PodCast 236: "Elvis" (2022) - a rock n' roll episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  03/06/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Baz Luhrmann

Your two hunks o' burnin' love take on the Luhrmann-ized retelling of the life of The King. We ponder the nature of biopics, fame, Dutch accents, appropriate management fees, pink suits and the power of shaking one's hips. It's another Oscar-contender episode!



That's All Right - Elvis Presley 
Unchained Meldoy - Elvis Presley