Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nashville - A Movie Club Column

This season while watching Lost it occurs to me that they have written so many characters into the show that the writers have totally lost track of some of them.. leaving some of them off for weeks and weeks at a time.. Have we seen Bernard and Rose yet this season? And how about that “new” couple who were on the plane that were supposed to be a major part of the cast this season? With that in mind.. you really have to appreciate Robert Altman for the way he successfully weaves more than 24 major characters into his 1975 movie Nashville, while never abandoning them for lengthy periods of time. And that includes 2 prominent characters who are never seen! Speaking of 24.. I think Heroes may be better than 24 this season.. Memo to NBC: Just send a tape of last Monday‘s episode and the Emmy is yours! I like Claire’s dad’s flashbacks from 1997 and 1992... .. If they would have gone back 20 years you would have seen him when he was Gay Steven on “Dynasty”.

One of the things about the wiseguy playboy Sawyer on Lost.. is you wonder if he is somewhat modeled after Tom.. (Tom Sawyer?) from Nashville.… . Tom, played by Keith Carradine is part of a 3 person trio Tom, Bill and Mary.. Sort of like Peter Paul and Mary… except his rock group which happens to be traveling through Nashville are big time rockers not country music stars.. The 1975 Carradine strongly resembles the present day Josh Holloway and has sex with so many people, I almost expected to find Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband hanging around his hotel room!

Nashville starts out in the style where M*A*S*H left off.. With a spinning record disk announcing the cast (Like the in-movie cast announcements at the end of M*A*S*H) and a politician preparing for the ‘76 Tennessee primary driving around with a bullhorn that forces you to listen closely for amusing nuggets like the M*A*S*H loudspeaker.. Probably the funniest comment questions why The Star Spangled Banner is our National Anthem.. And of course like M*A*S*H, Altman again took on a movie with no real plot ..instead it’s a series of scenes that are very well edited together.

To further enhance your enjoyment of today's column, here is the 1975 trailer for the movie that actually does a good job explaining Who’s Who. Watching it will help you to better understand today’s column.

Like Lost, the Nashville story gets rolling with an airplane trip,…taking us to the Nashville Airport where so many major characters arrive, you almost expect to see them welcomed by Ricardo Montalban and Tattoo. Among those flying in are the country music starlet Barbara Jean, whose arrival on a chartered flight is covered in breathless play by play by local news reporter Bill Jenkins since this event is considered “Breaking News!” Also coming in on a plane are our rock and roll (and love) trio, a political strategist who is prepping for the TN primary, and a young girl played by Shelley Duvall who is there to visit a sick relative, but meets a new guy every five minutes and just walks off with him. Sorta like Anna Nicole Smith when she first came to Hollywood.

After the airport scene, virtually the entire cast gets stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on the highway near the airport. Too bad in 1975 they didn’t have WCBS's Chris Maget or WOR's Tom Note to guide them to a Shadow Traffic alternate route. Alberquerque played by Barbara Harris sneaks off from her husband and in a tender moment runs into Kenny who runs interference for her when her husband comes looking for her.. just long enough for her to get away. She escapes and he ends up hitching a ride with the husband.. Doesn’t this guy think before he picks up hitchhikers? But then again,. this nice guy did sweetly help Albequerque so how bad can he be?

Even though the film has no star, the most incredible acting performance in my opinion is delivered by Henry Gibson who to me was always a mousy kind of character on Laugh-In. Here, he plays a country music mogul among the universe of those who are country fans.. He doesn’t bat an eyelash when Elliot Gould of MASH playing himself shows up at a party, and considers him a “fellow star”. Gould and Julie Christie were in Nashville when the movie was filmed and cameo appearances were written for both of them…. The Julie Christie appearance is a truly hysterical moment watching 2 hicks react to a woman who was a big star at the time… which is almost as amusing as Ned Beatty’s embarrassment when he didn’t recognize Gould. He must have not seen M*A*S*H.

Gibson’s Laugh-In co-star Lily Tomlin is another key character playing a gospel singer who is married to an emotionally unavailable Ned Beatty (maybe still sore in the tuchis after filming Deliverance?) and is the mother of 2 deaf kids whose dad doesn’t seem to bother to learn sign language. And guess which aforementioned stud ends up doing the ol’ hocus mcpocus with Tomlin? None other than Tom who ends up singing a song called “I’m Easy” (which went on to win an Oscar) in a nightclub where at least 3 women in the audience believe the song is directed towards her. One of the other 2 women he hooks up with is Mary from his group who is married to the other guy Bill who actually resembles Weird Al Yankovic

Tom also hooks up with a wacko British woman who claims to be filming a documentary for the BBC... although she never seems to have a camera crew. Watching the BBC reporter’s breathless interviewing skills was like the media frenzy that jumped off the crazy diaper astronaut bandwagon to Anna Nicole Smith’s death the way our media did last month… The “BBC reporter” walks away from an interview with Gibson’s son while he is in the middle of a sentence…. the moment she sees the more popular Elliot Gould arrive at a party… She runs up to him and sticks her microphone right in his face expecting him to recognize her from an a film festival where they had allegedly briefly met. She refuses to meet Tomlin’s deaf kids because her shallowness just can’t deal with the concept of deaf children and she also rudely cuts off a local drivers polite offer to show her around Nashville with the classic line.. ”I never socialize with the servants!”

Beatty’s character is probably the glue that brings the whole cast together. He plans a whole big shindig along with the out of town political operative (Michael Murphy from M*A*S*H) to help promote a politician running for President in the 1976 Bicentennial election which was of course was won by Mr. Anti-Israel Jimmy Carter. By the way, after the Oscars, do you get the opinion that Al Gore is kind of popular? Anyway, Beatty and Murphy reach out to all the music stars to appear at an event which is the climax of the movie featuring the troubled but loveable Barbara Jean, played superbly by Oscar nominee Ronee Blakley who comes to face to face with a life changing event .

Coincidentally, poor Barbara Jean’s misfortune ends up as Albuquerque, the wanna-be’s lucky break in a truly stunning musical performance by Harris.. That contrasts another political fundraiser from the prior evening featuring Sueleen Gay.., the vocally challenged singer descends from a stage that comes down from the rafters only to show that her singing is incredibly awful. The all male crowd Cowell-ingly boos her… to the point where she turns the crowd to her favor by humiliatingly performing a strip tease where she removes ALL of her clothes! By the way the American Idol fans now have a site called Vote For the where they organize a campaign to vote for the worst person. I see they did the same thing for the last two Presidential elections!

When you have a movie like this with so many characters and no plot per se.. it really is only worth it when there is a big payoff at the end. In this case there is.. Because while you see all the major characters interact, (and realize that the minor characters aren’t so minor after all) you realize that Nashville, like Hollywood is where people go to make dreams come true. You also see a lot of shallow people who in a moment of crisis turn out to have good hearts that just don’t come out under ordinary circumstances.

Nashville shows that stardom isn’t what it’s cut out to be..… Barbara Jean arrives in the airport at the beginning of the movie after having been hospitalized out of state for a lengthy period due to injuries sustained in a fire. Now fully healed physically, she arrives at the airport only to injure herself while collapsing as she walks over to greet her fans, and that leads to another hospitalization where a stalking fan sneaks into her hospital room … not even having the guts to take credit that it was his mom that saved her from that fire. Maybe being a star isn’t such a great thing after all… and maybe Albequerque and Sueleen Gay might have been happier had they kept their more simpler lives? Or maybe the deaf kids are better off in their silent world than the BBC reporter who lives in her noisy planet of shallowness.

The helpful hitchhiking Kenny always shows up at these Barbara Jean appearances.. Forced to perform the day she leaves the hospital. BJ has a meltdown when her band starts to play but she just starts wandering off into some bizarre monologue reminiscent of Frank Sinatra at the Emmys. Finally, BJ’s husband/manager strolls onstage and leads her off seeing full well that she is just not mentally ready to perform on stage.. That is of course until the very next day for the political rally. Kenny appears again.. and I actually thought he was another musician waiting for his big break.. waiting for another long pre monologue BJ silence to start, so he could pull out an instrument and begin to sing. Instead Kenny provides the key moment in the end of the movie that gives Alberquerque her moment in the sun. I think it would be unfair to those who might want to see the movie to reveal the plot twist even though the movie has been out for more than 30 years. I didn’t see it coming, and the shock greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the movie.

Overall the story has a great beginning… a middle dragged down by too much country music and a fantastic ending. The final song will ring in your brain for days after you see it. Some of the actors are pretty good especially the Oscar nominated Ronee Blakley who was cast as Barbara Jean at the last minute, and as mentioned before, Gibson who I never would have imagined in this role. You also have to give Altman credit for managing all of these characters and achieving a sense of balance for a rather complex storyline, On a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… the 2 hour 40 minute Nashville gets 3 bladders.

Time for The Clip of the Week: The husband in that rock trio looked like Weird Al Yankovic.. here is a clip from his TV show!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Top 14 Movies to Start a DVD Collection

It appears that a column I wrote several months ago is looking very accurate. If you look in the archives, you will see that back on July 29th, I had predicted that the low cost of producing dvds would eventually phase out the concept of video rental stores. However, now that I look back to that fateful column, I also inaccurately predicted that the girl in For Better or For Worse would reunite with her old boyfriend after the current guy dumped her. I did get the dumping part right however..

Last Wednesday’s snow storm combined with the upcoming Oscars inspired me to write today’s column - keep in mind that a snow day on Valentines Day means a lot of new babies are gonna be born mid November. Even though I went to work in the crummy weather.. I just couldn’t stay home and watch any more of that awful Anna Nicole Smith coverage.. Speaking of which, that Larry Birkhead guy is starting to look very very good.. even though watching him on the stand reminds me of Kato Kaelin…His sharklike lawyer Debra Opri has the makings of a big star the way she handles the proceedings and her nightly visits to Larry King.

Please raise your hand if you were at work Thursday watching the court coverage to make sure your computer’s live streaming ability would be ready for next month’s CBS NCAA Tournament online feed. You know who you are.. You’re the people who saw the lawyer faint on Thursday and yelled out “What the Fudge” and to paraphrase A Christmas Story… you didn’t say Fudge. Even though many have criticized the Judge for being a bit of a ham, you gotta give him credit for his instant diagnosis that the fainting lawyer had low blood sugar due to diabetes and insisted that HE buy the fainter some orange juice from the local vending machine! He's a Judge! He's a Doctor! He's a Philanthropist!

Meanwhile Howard K Stern is at the 14:59 mark for his 15 minutes of fame… with the last second ticking off when it turns out he is not the father of that baby. Amazingly the other Howard Stern’s popularity is gonna soar now that Sirius is merging with XM giving us the tantalizing realization that satellite radio will not make us choose between Howard on Sirius and the XM Major League Baseball Package .

The Valentines Day storm got me wondering about what movies I would watch during a long snow storm. And since a lot of people have been building up their dvd collections, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use this week to list my Top 14 must have movies.. Here in no particular order, are the movies I would watch if stranded at home for a lengthy period of time.. or on a portable dvd player while stuck on a Jet Blue plane on a runway. By the way speaking of airlines, I would like to see if this stewardess who did the hoochie mcscoochie with Ralph Fiennes will ever appear at Career Day at the local high school. Lisa Robertson lost her job after checking into the airport bathroom with the actor, who was en route to a Safe Sex symposium! After joining the Mile High Club (Safe sex? Didn’t Ralph see Snakes on a Plane?) Robertson admitted to a newspaper that she later went back to his hotel room for several more go-rounds with Fiennes. The airline fired her because to paraphrase George Costanza, this type of behavior is frowned upon. I wonder if she will collect unemployment. .

Now time in no particular order for the list of dvds to watch on a stranded weekend….

We start with an Honorable Mention - Since this is about movies in my collection, I technically can’t include this film since it just came out and I haven’t bought it yet.. Therefore it gets honorable mention…. This week marked the release of THE PRESTIGE, the best movie of 2006 in my humble opinion. (See the November 7th column) It came out at the same time as the other magician movie The Illusionist, yet I found Prestige to be so much better and incredibly entertaining. As a matter of fact when I saw The Illusionist, I really didn’t like it at all.. finding the ending to be quite predictable…and incredibly overrated, yet many critics oddly favored it over The Prestige, and they both pulled in similar box office numbers.

1. Christopher Nolan showed his talents by directing The Prestige… but he first became a star with his fantastic MEMENTO. The movie which is told in reverse chronological order interspersed with a 2nd storyline that goes in regular order. This is mind boggling because its about a guy with no short term memory who doesn’t remember what just happened.. Nor does the viewer since the story is told backward! An absolute head scratching classic.

2. Speaking of head scratchers, M Night Shamalyan’s THE VILLAGE is extremely entertaining.. Even though I figured out the “surprise ending”. Nonetheless, its one of MNS’s better movies along with The Sixth Sense whose ending I also predicted… However I really did not like Lady in the Water. This is not to pick on Paul Giamatti…who was also in the Illusionist.. Heck his dad Bart Giamatti was a terrific guy and a great baseball commissioner.. But Lady in the Water was just sooo stupid.. it didn’t have any surprise twists, although it did have a few entertaining moments. The story was based on a fairy tale Shmalyan used to tell his kids - he shoulda stuck with Goldilocks.

3. Last year’s Oscar winner CRASH was accurately predicted in last years Oscar Preview column.. Hmmm.. Maybe I might have the right pick for this year too? Crash was one of 2 4 bladder movies in that July 29th column,….

4. THE GODFATHER , the other 4 bladder movie in that aforementioned July 29th column is a classic and is a good movie to kick off a streak of legends.

5. While we are on the classics.. Lets not forget THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Readers of this column may note a recent column where I proclaimed my dislike for musicals.. However I make an exception for this legendary film which has so many catchy toons. One rainy day on a singles weekend many years back, on a double dog dare, I went into a gazebo and started to sing.. “I am 16 going on 17..”. I also have informed Trophy Wife that when we have kids, they will be expected to say goodnight to dinner guests with…”Good Night, Farewell… We bid you all adieu.. To You, and you and you and you. Oh wait we’re supposed to raise them not to point. Hmmm….

6. Another one of my all time favorites is WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. Despite amazing advances in computer technology no other film has come close when it comes to integrating live action with animation. I have to admit I have always been a big fan of this kind of movie since the days of Mister Limpett… but WFRR’s ability to utilize the character libraries of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers created some incredible moments. I was always amazed that this movie didn’t launch Christopher Lloyd into a huge movie career.

7. While we’re on the Taxi cast list.. RUNNING ON EMPTY with Judd Hirsch and the late River Phoenix are amazing in this movie about a family on the run. After seeing this movie, you can never listen to Fire and Rain by James Taylor the same way again after you hear the poignant way it is worked into this movie.

8. The oddest movie of the last few years has gotta be NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.. I can’t put my finger on it, but for some reason I think this movie is just fantastic. Between the internet chat room habits of Napoleon’s brother, and Uncle Rico’s obsession with his high school football team lost opportunity.. This has to be one of the strangest yet most entertaining movies in recent years. An absolute classic.

9. What? No Kevin Bacon movies yet? Well let’s add the great DINER -.. especially since it’s a gold mine for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.. One of my all time favorites.. Its one of those movies that had a remarkable unknown cast that all turned out to end up with pretty impressive careers… sorta like the original Saturday Night Live. The writing and directing is amazing, especially the tense pre wedding football exam.. Everybody.. especially those of us in diner filled NJ has a diner buddy who would always try to mooch food like the Paul Reiser character in this legendary film..

10. THE RUNNING MAN - Richard Dawson’s performance as Damon Killian goes down in history as the all time classic villian.. Better than Darth Vader and Lex Luthor combined! This “futuristic” game show is a combination of Fear Factor, Survivor and Lost all rolled into one… and nobody ever ever thought that Dawson had the acting chops to turn in such an incredible performance. It definitely blocked out the usual lame-o acting by Governor Shwartzenegger.

11. After seeing all these serious movies.. How about some yuks with my choice for funniest movie ever? AIRPLANE is an absolute knee slapper and more than 25 years later people are still repeating their favorite lines from that comedy classic.

12. After that, the laughing continues with THERES SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, the movie that started Ben Stiller’s movie role. Besides giving away a single guys secret for maintaining composure during a date, it also had a lot of other crazy moments such as an oddball way to incorporate the background music into the movie.

13. The comedy triple header continues with AMERICAN PIE - another legend that changed my perspective of eating Apple Pie. The movie is quite juvenile, but it introduced MILF to day to day language- and included the character passionately moaning out "Stifler's Mom!". The movie is laugh out loud funny and gives me a chance to put a Eugene Levy film on the list.. even though he is much funnier in Best in Show which I don’t own. Nonetheless Band Camp kids will never live down the legacy of the Michele character who has gone on to have a decent career on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

14. PULP FICTION - I figure after watching 13 movies.. By the time I get to #14, I will have misplaced my watch and the remote.. more than likely in the couch cushions. No matter what stands out in your mind about this classic.. for me the most outstanding moment is when Bruce Willis’s character as a child gets a watch from his previously imprisoned dad who revealed a very interesting place to hide a watch when you’re behind bars. (See the legendary Newlywed Game answer for a clue to that location)

Now time for The Oscar Picks… No matter how you slice it the Best Actor this year has been Zachary Quinto from Heroes who was also on 24 in the 2003 season. His range as Sylar being the nasty villain to being “Mr. Nice Guy” is amazing… Here are the picks.

Wild Card Award 1 - The only one where Borat is nominated - Best Adapted Screenplay. I pick Borat.. Even though it was “ad-libbed”

Wild Card Award 2 - The only category where The Prestige and The Illusionist compete - Cinematography - I pick The Prestige.

Supporting Actor - Eddie Murphy

Supporting Actress - Rinko Kikuchi - tough role; she couldn’t speak!

Actor - Peter O’Toole…everybody was so impressed with Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin… but I liked the guy from Homicide who played him in the Entebbe movie.

Actress - Helen Mirren for the Queen

Director - Martin Scorsese

Best Movie - The only one I saw - Little Miss Sunshine - yeah it’s a dark comedy but because it came out during the John Karr - Jon Benet Ramsey story, the whole premise of a kiddie beauty pageant makes it the scariest movie of 2006.

Now time for The Clip of the Week.. I love how the award losers are soooo gracious… Here is a clip from a recent award show featuring country singer Faith Hill…

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Sublime Time Line to Solving Crime in Prime Time

The sublime time line to solving crime in prime time that has no reason or uh uh.. Hmmm what word would fit here?.. Excuse me while I channel the ghost of Nipsey Russell.

You know the old saying.. “If you do the crime.. You do the time“.. Well how about applying it to TV show if you do the crime.. we’ll solve it in an unrealistic time. Or something like that. We all do things based on time.. The entire cycle of life is time related. The Jewish Mourning laws are all based on time. At the other extreme, babies are expected to grow within a timeframe.. educations take time.. We have to be at work at a certain time. Time, Time.. Everywhere there’s time… (or is that signs?). Last fall I did a column about "Time Management" (See the archives Sept. 2006) how Trophy Wife lured me to a surprise 30-something birthday party for me by coordinating my day down to the minute, which included of all things.. a Time Management Seminar!

Monday Night I plunked down on the couch for an evening of 24 and CSI Miami.. knowing full well that in my Tivo-less universe, a commercial-free Heroes would look better on my computer than a tape recorded off my 17 year old vcr. 24 was starting an hour earlier so my agenda for the evening was going to be 2 hours of Jack Bauer and Company trying to save the world from Muslim terrorists.

If you saw the first hour, you would see that Morris, Chloe's Richard Dawson-esque boyfriend/ex-husband was lured into a trap by terrorists so he could program a suitcase nuclear bomb. Of course Morris wasn’t going to cooperate with the evil terrorist.. so it was torture time.. Better known as the 24 s and m fan festival! After the usual beatings and whippings and head soakings it was time to go for the old power drill and after drill bit hit flesh, Morris collapsed like a house of cards and agreed to program the device. Grey’s Anatomy also used the drill Thursday night when Stevens buzzed into a guys brain.. But her Emmy-esque beautiful speech about belief turned into a yenta fest when she told George that he made a colossal mistake by marrying Callie. Anyway, many bloggers feel Morris should have killed himself instead of giving in... but from a story telling standpoint, it didn’t make a lot of sense since the actor who plays Morris is pretty popular and they would need him to keep the story moving.

At 10 it was time for CSI Miami.. the 2nd of a 2 parter that strangely didn’t start with a recap of the prior episode. Who does CBS think is going to recall what happened in last weeks episode while still catching your breath from the end of the 2nd hour of 24 where Rena Sofer's character... (she is also Nathan’s wife on Heroes and went to high school with my buddy Harmon) led Jack Bauer into a bomb filled house.. after her father in law (Jack’s father) strolled off with her son and threatened to kill him if she didn’t lead Jack to that house? And at 10:01 do they really expect me to go into the episode cold? Gimme a recap.. give me a "Previously on CSI Miami".

As it turned out... Delko was shot.. did he die? Yes? Oh wait no.. lets pound a needle into his chest.. okie dokie,... his heart is beating..

Which leads to today's topic.. who is managing the time frame of these crime shows?? I can see how 24 is structured that each 24 episode season takes place in a 24 hour period.. but if you look at CSI Miami.. the show seems to wrap up in a weird time frame and Heroes is totally out of left field in that regard.

I haven’t always been a big fan of the crime shows. The earliest show I recall was the afternoon Channel 2 reruns of Barnaby Jones where the narrator would announce in his baritone that this was “A Quinn Martin Production - Tonight‘s episode….” Why was it tonight‘s episode if I was watching it in the afternoon??

At least NBC seems to have addressed the problem when they started Law and Order in the early 90s.. I remember as a kid the crime dramas used to wrap their storylines in a nice little bow at the end of an hour and many of the storylines took place within the context of a single day. However, L and O stories can stretch for months because first you have the law and then you have the order. Even Criminal Intent doesn’t wrap up its cases in a single day.. although I remember that Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue always took place over the course of one day

Nonetheless, let’s take a closer look at some shows’ writers that need time managers…

LOST - Its not a Monday Night show but time-wise it’s a mess too... The plane crashed in 2004... they seem to have been there for only a few months.. yet Jack saw a tape of the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004. Where are we now? Is it still 2004?

And after last week’s head scratching episode.. Did Desmond’s life flash before his eyes.. Or did he travel back in time and relive his life like that awful Taye Diggs show that ABC briefly aired late last year? And notice how one “psychic” just lets people die because they are gonna die anyway, while Desmond keeps running out to save Charlie’s life? Wouldn’t it be cool if Desmond somehow ended up on Heroes?

And... why are the characters Dr Shepherd, and Dr. Burke sharing character names with Grey’s Anatomy characters? What are they gonna start calling Hurley?.... McTubby?

HEROES - It might win the ratings against 24, but I still must watch 24 live as it happens! Heroes is all over the time space continuum starting out in the fall.. going back 5 years.. then back to the fall... yet even though the show premiered in September, a bomb that Hiro futuristically sees as going off on Election Day 2006 still hasn’t gone off... and Nathan Petrelli (Mr. Rena Sofer) last Monday mentioned that its now 2 weeks before Election Day. And Nate is the father of Claire the Cheerleader! This just in to the newsroom.. Nathan Petrelli has just announced that he is the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter!

24 - Ok.. Don’t do 2 hour shows any more.. its too much and I can only handle an hour of the action. Also, if they do 2 hours you become more keenly aware of things that happened in the 1st hour that don’t make sense when compared to the 2nd hour. For example, in the first episode this season.. Jack shaved off his big beard, got a haircut and changed into an Adrian Monk-esque outfit… in 11 minutes! And this past week was pushing it a bit.. In the beginning of the 1st hour.. Morris was getting his ass pounded and drilled etc. By the end of hour 2 he was back at his desk pecking away at his computer trying to save the world. Don’t they have sick leave at CTU? How do they expect him to just do his job after being... drilled?? This just in to the newsroom..90 year old Zsa Zsa Gabor has announced that she is the mother of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter!

And the all time classic of classics!…

CSI MIAMI/aka The David Caruso Acting Clinic.- they get hot babes like Callie (NOT the one who Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Stevens doesn't like) and Eva LaRue.. who pounce around in their sexy little outfits and you just cant help but notice that they wear the same clothes during the episode. Do you mean to tell me that Monday's episode that started with Delko getting shot on a parking deck and ended before sundown with Horatio killing the bad guy really took place in one day? Keep in mind they traced the bad guy to the shooting (his dad was played by the actor who played the villain from an early season of 24), and figured out he was a diamond dealer, and that a local diamond store had an illegal sweatshop behind a secret panel! At 10;01 Delko was rushed to the hospital... operated on.. .and wondering why his dead sister won’t visit him.... All in the same day! Last month, Delko had this storyline where he broke up a fight involving a couple.... bailed the wife out of a tough situation,. and then she sued him for assaulting her husband.. who later died in that episode, and by the end of the same episode he had settled out of court and was signing a document that would allow his wages to be garnished!! And all in one day!! C’mon what the heck is going on?? Buy the chickies more outfits and make the timelines more plausible!!

This just in to the newsroom… The crazy astronaut just packed a carload of diapers and is driving to The Bahamas to declare her love for Howard K. Stern.

Speaking of Howard K. Stern, I gotta ask a Rabbi about how the Jewish laws of mourning apply to Howard. Does he sit shiva for Anna Nicole? Does he have to wait until the funeral to start now that the body is held over for DNA testing? Were they actually married? Does he say kaddish? All these customs are based from the time of death or burial.... and I hope whoever figures out how much time is allotted for these things does a better job than the writers who figure out how much time lapses during an episode of CSI Miami...

Now time for the Clip of the Week - This week in honor of CSI Miami.. Somebody with a lot of spare time put together an amazing montage of David Caruso overacting sunglasses removal (or put-on) scenes that grace the very beginning of each episode before the theme song. You gotta see this to believe it! The show’s theme song is The Who’s “Who‘s Are You?“ I love the clip at 5:55!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Culture Week Part II - Books I Read in 2006

Hello folks and welcome to our shortest column of the year…

And what a week it has been… is there anything crazier than an astronaut in a love triangle? I mean I’m happy the police were able to stop this looney kazoonie before she would have killed anyone but you gotta give her credit for planning… I mean she packed diapers so she wouldn’t have to take an intermission to go pishing.. But can you imagine the amazing concentration you need to drive 900 miles from Houston to Orlando without stopping? In this age of chronic ADD, you gotta keep her in the space program if she can drive that long without a break! I say .. Even if she is convicted… keep sending her out on space missions.... I mean ya send her up into space in the shuttle.. she really is in custody and not “free”? What's she going to do? Run away? And if she works in the kitchen on the space station…would she be called “The Pampered Chef?”

This goes along with my long time belief that we can ease our overcrowded prisons and landfills by sending prisoners and garbage to other planets. I got a kick out of some bigshot politician in NY the other day who reacted to neighbors opposing a homeless shelter by telling a reporter…”Neighbors will always object to this type of thing.. If we put it on the Moon.. The Martians would complain”. However, it now appears that the crazy astronaut has been Anna Nicoled out of the headlines…

And how about that President Bush?… He adds to the budget to allow for more troops in Iraq yet he cuts the budget for Homeland Security. Does that mean Iraqi’s safety is more important than American safety… I guess hes gotta protect the family’s oil money.

Today for the 2nd straight year.. We present the books I read in 2006. I heard a great Sam Waterston line on Law and Order a couple of weeks ago…… The L and Os seem to be the only shows I still watch on NBC… aside from Heroes and Deal or No Deal. I only mention Deal or No Deal because there is this DOND fan website that lists this very blog as one of its “Top Bloggers”… I only tossed that reference in to get me up there in the rankings!

Anyway they had this wacky L and O episode about a reality show that led to the killing of a rapist by his victim. The episode dealt with Waterston’s prosecution of the show’s producer… In the episode the reality show was a spinoff of another show that was verrrrry similar to those Chris Hansen Dateline NBC shows where they lure child molesters into a home on the premise of meeting a young child. Anyway, Waterston convicts the producer and her network throws her under the bus by asking Waterston if he would allow the trial to be… a reality show. Waterston’s response to watching coverage of his prosecution….: “I’ll be reading a book”

As a regular reader of his fine blog, I gotta give Neil's blog credit. He constantly writes columns about the books he reads.. I recently asked him if he actually has read all those books.. And he does! Wow… I’m really not much of a book reader.. Although I do read a lot, I read a few newspapers each day and Entertainment Weekly plus a bunch of other online publications.. not to mention a lot of other blogs… but as you can see by today’s column.. The book reading .. It ain’t what it oughta be.

This past year I read 2 books and started 2 others that I‘m “still reading“… including one that I got at the tail end of 2006 during one of those trips to Dollar Tree and that irresistible dollar book bin . The first book I read was early in the year…. Podcasting for Dummies.. I bought it after numerous futile attempts to get my NWOW pod casts on Itunes. Ultimately I figured out how to do it… but not through the book which by the way is extremely informative. I finally saw the light to itunes when I bought my cell phone! As I mentioned in my Technology Schmecknology column last summer in my July 6th column… I couldn’t get my music into the mp3 player until I went back to the Cingular store and they explained that the songs only work in mp3 format.. and not as a wma… Once I figured that out… I realized that Itunes also wasn’t catching the wma format either… Once I changed ‘em to mp3, I was able to hook up my NWOW pod casts with Itunes.

Podcasting for Dummies is another book in the popular dummy series.. It is quite informative, especially for those looking to get a start in pod casting. . But with technology being updated constantly…a book like this … which was just written last year could be out of date before too long.,. However for now, it’s a good reference guide to find stuff when you run into trouble getting a podcast up and running. I thought pod casting would be more popular by now as a forum for people to do little radio shows or commentaries… Podcasting has caught on but in a different way… now people go on their My Space page and post links to the drek that they uploaded to You Tube.

As I wrote in a column a few months ago on November 24th I was a guest on another pod cast.. hosted by a guy who had heard my Mortgage Podcast… (and I suspect reads this blog too). My ability to be a “good guest” was based on tips I learned from Book #2 - “Get on TV” by Jacquie Jordan.. my first poolside book of the summer.. Jacquie and I worked at the same radio station many moons ago, and she was a guest on my pod cast here last April. Technically, I didn’t finish the book… it was summer book #1... I lost it somewhere along the line as I was reading the last chapter! However, I am sure at some point during spring cleaning, it will turn up.. But even though I technically didn’t finish it… I am still counting it on my 2006 tally.

The 2nd Summer Reading book was The Bob Schieffer autobiography “This Just In” … I picked it up at Dollar Tree and I was about 80 pages in when I ran out of summer. Schieffer has some very interesting anecdotes about his career.. Including how he met Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother after the assassination of JFK. He also tells about ducking bullets during riots at The University of Mississippi when black college student James Meredith attempted to break the color barrier by enrolling there. Oddly enough Meredith went on to become a Right Wing Republican and actually endorsed David Duke when he ran for President! Was David Duke at the Holocaust Revisionist Conference that they held in Iran?

Speaking of that hideous Iranian President.. What about that moronic group that calls itself the Neturei Karta.. A bunch of low lives who dress like Chasidic Jews but who are an embarrassment to Judaism and have now sunken lower on the Jewish food chain beneath the Jews for Jesus cult. Just so you understand.. There are a lot of very nice ultra Orthodox Jewish Chusids who dress up in their traditional black hat and black suit outfits. They are very fine people who are very devoted to their religious practices.. The Neturei Kartas are a bunch of morons who try to confuse people by going out in public dressed as Chusids, but in reality they are a bunch of idiots.

The NKs are anti Zionist… who don’t think it’s the Jews biblical right to be in Israel so they constantly come out in support of Israel‘s many enemies.. But to insult the memory of all those who died in the Holocaust by joining in with Holocaust deniers is beyond disgraceful.. One of these idiots…. “Rabbi” Friedman of Austria just saw all 4 of his kids tossed out of their Jewish school and those kids are now banned from attending any other Jewish schools. Some people say these Friedman kids are being picked on because of their controversial dad but the reality is they shouldn’t be in Jewish schools.. because the schools only take real Jews.. and the Nks are not real Jews.

I also picked up another good one at Dollar Tree at the tail end of last year…… “Stealing Time”.. about the AOL - Time Warner Merger.. I read about 30 pages of that one shortly after I bought it.. and hopefully it will make next year’s Books I Read column. In addition, I just bought Jim Cramer’s new book on eBay, and it looks like that is going to be the first book that I actually finish reading in 2007.

Now time for the Clip of the Week. This weekend the Grammys move from its annual weeknight slot to its new Sunday Night slot… thus avoiding a repeat of last year where it got hammered in the ratings by American Idol. As I mentioned in a prior column, I went to the Grammys in 1988... highlighted by an incredible “Man in the Mirror” performance by Michael Jackson that got so intense.. he seems to have briefly zoned out right in the middle. Here is a clip from that show! Check out the audience for younger versions of Mayor Koch and Billy Joel and somewhere there... little ol' me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Culture Week Part 1 - Can You Hear the Drums Fernando?

This week on the blog we celebrate Culture Week.. An expansion of last years oh so popular Literacy Week. I was all set to write what will now be the next column… but then Sunday night, Trophy Wife and I took a trip to the theeee ater… hence the change from Literacy Week to Culture Week.

And what a week it has been… The Super Bowl is coming up this wknd.. And The Amazing Pumpstradamus picks the Bears to win 42-7. Sayeth the Pump: “3 week old Baby Pumpstradamus has a lot of little Bears.. And Nate has 2 and 7 in the Super Bowl pool!”. Speaking of the Big Game.. my submission for best Super Bowl ad contest was summarily rejected. To coincide with the much ballyhooed release of Vista… I came up with a Microsoft ad based on the popular Apple ads featuring a young hip guy who introduces himself as “I’m a Mac” and a stodgier square geeky guy who announces “And I’m a PC”…. except in my version the PC guy announces… “You may be the young hip guy.. But more young girls use me… a PC… to flash their boobies on their web cams than little Ipod boy over here.….”

How ironic that the week the Colts go to The Super Bowl coincides with all the attention on the tragic death of the horsey Barbaro.. At first when he was injured people initially thought it just might be a temporary setback and he would be back for Belmont. Then as we heard the severity of his condition, the hope was that he could be retired to stud and live a happy life.. Then as his leg condition worsened… the hope was for a life without pain… Now.. Its off to the glue factory….where he can be used as billboard glue so Adult Swim can just paste billboards for their new cartoon show instead of scaring the living daylights out of our friends in Boston who spent Wednesday waiting for Paul Revere to announce that The British Are Coming!! . OMIGOSH Nate!!! How can you say such a horrible thing about the beautiful, majestic and incredibly brave Barbaro… and the city of Boston? Actually, I question the media obsession with the horse. Why were there were more microphones at the Barbaro death press conference than at the daily press briefing updating the horrible Holocaust going on in Darfur? The horse was brave… how about these people who are being executed on a daily basis?

As for Culture Week… last Hannukah, Trophy Wife got me an awesome gift - Tickets to see Mamma Mia on Broadway. I gotta tell you… I hate musicals…. But I love Abba.. So this was the ultimate test to see if my love of Abba.. (My childhood was Abba and game shows.) would outweigh my distaste for musicals. The last time I went to see a musical was actually in the late 80s when as a student at Montclair State, a theater class required that I see a Broadway Musical, and write a paper about it. I was not very happy about this assignment.

So one Sunday, my buddy Harmon and I went to The City to one of those TKTS booths to buy tickets to “Oh Calcutta” since I heard there was nudity. Much to our chagrin… the show was sold out. However I later saw it on video.. and frankly I can never look at Bill Macy (from Maude) or hear the Lone Ranger Theme/William Tell Overture the same way after that experience. People who have seen the show will appreciate that comment!

Since we couldn’t get Calcutta tickets we decided to go for Plan B. Peter Marshall was appearing in a musical called “La Cage Aux Folles” and not having a clue what it was about.. we got tickets. I remember it had been a movie several years before that had an incredibly long run. We got the tix and headed to the Palace Theater… The show was actually pretty good although I was a little surprised by the whole plot involving transvestites and gays.. From what I recall, a young guy is getting married and tries to hide his gay parents from his fiance’s hoity toity parents. After the show,. we strolled over to Rockefeller Center… We used to know this guy named Wild Bill Grundfest who emceed at the Comedy Cellar and did a weekend call in show on the old 66 WNBC. Harmon and I went up there and talked about our big trip to Broadway and then a lot of people started calling in. I didn’t realize till much later that the callers were all male and extremely friendly.

So last weekend, it was off to the Winter Garden Theater to see a Sunday Night 7pm show.. a good time to catch a show since you can drive in and find free parking within a few blocks from the theater! Usually at a musical I would think.. Ok skip the songs and just tell me the story.. But in this case I was ready to say Just skip the storyline and get to the Abba songs.. However the story was kind of catchy. Its about a young girl who is getting married.. Not to the guy from La Cage… and the young girl wants her dad to give her away. The problem is she doesn’t know who her father is… and since her mom had 3 little affairs 9 months before her birth she decides to send wedding invitations to all 3 so she can figure out who’s her daddy and he can give her away at the wedding. This should be mandatory viewing for all those teenagers that appear on The Maury Povich Show so they can see the ramifications for their babies 20+ years down the road.

The girl lives on an exotic Greek Island with her mom who has really carved out quite a life for herself by running a nice little hotel. The bulk of the show takes place the day before and the day of the wedding, and the Three’s Company/My Two Dads (little known pre Mad About You sitcom with Paul Reiser) hilarity that ensues.

The music is - Abba! And I loved every second of it. Right off the bat they get into a fantastic rendition of “Money Money”… involving a song and dance number involving extras who sit quietly at the rather sparse hotel set one second and then moments later start dancing it up with the rest of the cast. One extra in particular is a little old lady who just sits there quietly knitting.. and then starts dancing like a mad-woman. With her makeup.. She actually bears an uncanny resemblance to my mom’s 70-something cousin. There is also the wedding scene near the end where the Minister who is hired to perform the wedding looked exactly like my buddy Memo, but not his identical twin brother. It was so uncanny it was almost hard to concentrate on the show for a few minutes.

All the Abba songs are there except for Fernando which I guess in retrospect isn’t really as upbeat and peppy as the other Abba work. The actress who plays the young girl is ok.. David McDonald who plays one of the dads is exceptional, and the other 2 dads are pretty good too… But the women playing her mom and her sisters are excellent! Carolee Carmello who plays the mother Donna has a set of pipes and really belts out the tunes… believe me… coming from a person who has been an Abba fan for 30 years.. that is a lot to live up to! And her sister Tanya played by Judy McLane - homina homina homina… Now that I’m married I don’t use this word anymore.. but lets just say… its what my dyslexic friend would call a FLIM! There is one scene where she is wearing this gown with thigh high slits and every guy in the theater appeared to be drooling! Britney Spears could learn a lesson here on how to act lady like with such an outfit. McLane also has a great voice and actually after the show is over and the stars take their bows.. the 3 sisters come out dressed as ABBA and along with the rest of the cast belt out an “impromptu” ABBA concert featuring a few of their most popular songs.

Incidentally, the theater runs a slick little operation selling cds, programs, and dvds… I bought one of the cd’s from the original cast recordings, and it amazes me that it costs more than what I paid for all of my other ABBA music combined!

The show is really awesome especially for ABBA fans.. Trophy Wife also had a blast… So on a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… wait a minute.. You cant leave in the middle of a show.. OK.. On a scale of 1 to 4 Fernandos… Mamma Mia gets 4 Fernandos! It would have been 3 and a half but the little concert after the show put it over the top.

Now time for the clip of the week…

Peter Marshall wasn’t the only game show host to do La Cage. The legend himself Gene Rayburn did the show in Bucks County, PA during my radio days in the early 90s. I couldn’t get out there to see the show.. So here instead is a radio interview I did with a local theater critic the day after he saw Gene on Opening Night! Here’s that chat from the archives… from September 26, 1991.

By the way….in 2004.… many years after seeing La Cage, Trophy Wife and I went on our honeymoon cruise, and along with a few other people participated in these goofy little nightly trivia contests where you had to answer 20 questions on a sheet of paper and whichever team correctly answered the most questions would win a little tchotchke. Well on this particular night.. It was Name That Tune… for Broadway Musicals! I was doomed… if they didn’t have stuff from The Sound of Music.. It was gonna be a long night. Luckily, one of our teammates was an aspiring actress who knew every single musical ever created… it was Marvin Hamlisch with breasts! The 1st 19 questions… she had the answer in a second! Then came question 20... And she had the blankest look on her face… Y’know isn’t that a famous song. I thought… . I knew the words were….”Those were the days”…but the actress had no clue where the song was from. Using my powers of deduction… like Columbo I managed to solve the mystery with one simple question… “Uh… have you ever seen La Cage Aux Folles?”

And after she replied “No” to my question.. I promptly jotted down “The Best of Times” from “La Cage Aux Folles” and we won 20-19.