Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Uh oh

So I've been busy glomming photos of Jennifer Lawrence and I just notice that the culprit hacker is . . . OriginalGuy.

Hmm. I guess he must be on the run . . . it's no coincidence that his name isn't showing up in the Guy roll now.

From Hunger

From Zagat:  "20 Regional Chains We Wish Would Go National."

The choices are from all over.  By my count, there's Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, Miami, Atlanta, DC, Seattle and Houston. The food choices include Chinese, Mexican, Greek, burgers, pizza, ice cream, pastries and others.

I've been to most of these cities, but I only recognized one place--Lemonade, which is all over Los Angeles, including one within walking distance.  It's sort of a relaxed, somewhat upscale lunch place which offers exotic salads and, if preferred, heartier fare.  I'd give it a thumbs up and expect it could spread far and wide.

But I've been to Chicago many times and never noticed Tortas Frontera, even though it's at O'Hare.  For that matter, I don't recall seeing M Burger, even though it's in the Loop.

Has anyone tried, or even heard of, any of these places?  Gotten fried chicken and donuts in Philadelphia?  Artisanal ice cream in Seattle?  Kebab in San Diego?  Grilled cheese in New York?  Rustic pizza in Miami?  Asian fusion in Austin?  Let us know.

Or do you know of any other places that should have made the list? I might have picked Zingerman's Delicatessen from Ann Arbor, except I'm not sure it's a chain.  In fact, it's turned down the chance to franchise.  But it's got a roadhouse, a creamery, a training seminar, a mail order business, a brand name and other offshoots, so maybe it makes the cut.


It's the centennial of Tom Glazer, American singer and songwriter.  His name may not be that familiar, but he had his hands in quite a few tunes one way or another.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Vanity Plates Of The Month

On a Saturn:  CHRY BB. Didn't seem unhappy.

SKNHLTH. I noticed there was no sun roof.

IQ MAMA.  Bud did daddy buy the car?

WLLPWR.  I like horsepower better.

SFILOVV.  Then why are you in LA?

PAREVE.  Wonder if he has two sets of cars?

Work Work Work

It's Labor Day so, conversely, take it easy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Played Out

I recently saw a local production of a play commonly printed as The Motherf**cker With The Hat.  It premiered three years ago on Broadway with a big-name cast.  So I was surprised to see this LA production--the first in town I'd heard of--was fairly low rent, in a small theatre with a no-name cast.

They did a good job, though.  That's the great thing about theatre.  They're going to perform the same play that was already done in a multi-million dollar production, and the magic can happen or not, regardless of the money spent. (On the flip side, bad theatre is much worse that bad cinema.  At least in a movie you can enjoy the production value, but you're stuck there in the theatre with living human beings performing right in front of you, and they can feel it failing just like you can.)

The program was a bit odd, with the cast and director not giving credits, but offering gratitude.  (In general, they weren't great writers, but that wasn't their job.)  Then there was the discussion of playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis.  The program noted his plays have been produced on five continents.  So all night I was trying to figure out which.  Okay, North America we know for sure.  And I think we can rule out Antarctica.  But what of the five others.

Europe, yeah, sure, you'd expect it there.  Is Australia the odd continent out?  Could be, but they speak English there and would probably like to see a Broadway title.  Asia might not seem that likely, but it's got more than half the people in the world, so come on.  South America?  Can we take it away?  I don't know.  His characters in this play had a Latino inflection, so I wouldn't be surprised if someone put it on South of the border.  So that leaves Africa.  Who knows?  When you put this sort of information down, let us know what you're talking about.

PS  I just checked and sure enough there was a production in Southern California last year.  Not sure if it played in Los Angeles, though.

Fast Lerner

Alan Jay Lerner was one of the most popular lyricists of the 20th century. He also wrote the books to his musicals, which is a major talent in itself.  With his regular partner Frederick Loewe he created Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady and Camelot, not to mention the film Gigi. He also worked with other name composers, including as Kurt Weill (Love Life), Burton Lane (Royal Wedding, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever) and Leonard Bernstein (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue),

He also married eight times, a different sort of talent.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Givin' some luv to LAGuy

Hmm. LAGuy moonlighting for Hulu?

Case Closed

I was watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents with the closed captioning on.  It was one of the CC cases where instead of pre-done stuff, apparently someone was typing while listening, so you get plenty of missed words, even sentences.

More entertaining are the mistakes.  Each show is introduced by Hitchcock, and this episode, "Death Scene," starts with Hitch holding a ticking case.  He opens it and finds an alarm clock.  On it he reads "tempus fugit."

So how does the CC typist hear this?  We get "tempt us fugitive." Usually they simplify, but in this case, it's seems to be someone trying to make sense of incomprehensible words.  I guess "tempt us fugitive" sort of sounds like a Hitchcock plot, but still.

PS  On another show, someone ordered "sherbert" at a restaurant, and the CC said "sherbert." I like this. No "sic" either.  If you fail to say it correctly, that's what the CC should show.

Have I Seen You Before?

Speaking of Route 66, TV used to be different.  People saw an episode once, maybe twice, and that was probably it. No one imagined box sets and Netflix.  So a show like Route 66, where leads Tod and Buz would drive into town and have a new adventure each week, liked to use actors more than once--who'd care, or even notice, if they appeared in different roles?

But I've been watching the show regularly on MeTV and it's hard to ignore.  In one episode, "A Fury Slinging Flame" (the show went for fancy literary titles), Leslie Nielsen is a scientist who figures there'll be a nuclear war soon.  Then two years later, in "Poor Little Kangaroo Rat," he's playing a different scientist who's studying the effects of cholesterol on sharks.  Did he change his name and specialty in the interim?

Tony-winning actress Tammy Grimes also makes two separate appearances.  The first time as a workaholic sonic expert, the second time--in the same season--as a physical fitness expert.  Susan Oliver, best known today as the woman in Star Trek's pilot "The Cage," stars in three separate episodes, as a death-obsessed woman, a woman with a split personality, and the girlfriend of a Viet Nam vet.  Ed Asner, who played smaller parts back then, shows up no less than five times--the producers must have really liked him.

Maybe this was a leftover from movies, when you could enjoy the same supporting actors in one film after another.  The practice seems to have ended.  I don't think those binge-watching fans would accept it any more.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Something to buy on eBay

If I were to ever buy a Rolex, I would feel pretentious. Unless it had a history.


I've always viscerally reacted to false courtesy, particularly when coupled with hypocrisy in interest.

But now I have scientific grounds for concluding that when a politician says "my distinguished colleague," he is speaking the truth.

Old Endings

I recently watched, on MeTV, the final episodes of two major 60s dramas, The Fugitive and Route 66.  The series had similarities--both lasted four seasons and both had the lead or leads traveling around the country, creating a new story in each place.  Route 66, however, was shot on location, while The Fugitive tried to make southern California look like every place.

Both finales were two-parters. The Fugitive's is famous--Dr. Richard Kimble, on the run so long for a crime he did not commit, is finally caught by Lt. Philip Gerard, but has enough time to find the one-armed man and discover who really killed his wife.  People had been waiting four years for this, and it was the most-watched TV series episode up to that point. It also effectively killed the reruns, because now everyone knew how things turned out.

The funny thing is, I didn't really watch the earlier episodes, so I wasn't particularly invested in the drama.  Yeah, yeah, big shoot-out at the amusement park.  Great.  It was in color, by the way, though the earlier seasons were in black and white, so Dr. Kimble got an upgrade.

Route 66 interested me more, even though the finale was incredibly silly.  The show fascinates me and I watched quite a few episodes (all in glorious black and white).  The two guys--first Tod and Buz, later Tod and Linc--start out each episode pulling into some new town in their snazzy Corvette.  Before you know it, they're involved in some local adventure (and getting into fights surprisingly often--these guys should be fugitives).

Most of the scripts are written by famed screenwriter Stirling Silliphant, though, to be honest, they're often pretty slipshod.  But, at its best, the show had an intensity, and also expressed a Jack Kerouac rootlessness and sense of searching that was unusual for TV.

By the fourth season, Buz--played by the intense George Maharis--is long gone and has been replaced by Linc, played by the lethargic Glenn Corbett.  In fact, Martin Milner's Tod has somehow become the more exciting character.

Anyway, the final two-parter, shot in Tampa, goes more for comedy--always a mistake on this show.  I won't go into the whole thing, but essentially it's a fight over a will, where a young woman, played by the beautiful Barbara Eden, marries Tod, while her aunt and uncles, fighting for their inheritance, try to kill him.  Don't ask why, but each of them have an accent--French, Spanish, Russian and British--even though they're all Americans. At the end of the first hour, Milner and Eden are on their way to their honeymoon when the taxi driver, in on the scheme, knocks Tod out with a wrench and throws him off a bridge into the river. The second hour has Tod secretly return and, with the help of Linc--not to mention costumes, makeup and accents that would embarrass a second-rate theatrical road company--get his revenge on each of the plotters.  Tod gets the girl and, believe it or not, no one gets the inheritance, even though the executor (played by Chill Wills) was required to give it to someone, I thought. Well, who cares.  Tod has found what he's looking for, which is what the series is about, and Linc will hitchhike back to Texas, where he's from, where he can reminisce about his years in Vietnam, and perhaps go back for another tour.

Not much of a send-off for the show. Certainly nothing compared to The Fugitive. But really the show ended somewhere in season three when Buz left.

Is There Anyone Finer?

Great jazz singer Dinah Washington was born 90 years ago today. (Though she died at 39 of a drug overdose.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

LM Ends

For decades, Leonard Maltin's movie guide was THE reference.  It gave you the title, the year, the director, the main actors and let you know if it was in color.  Then there was a rating--from BOMB to four stars--and a short paragraph telling you about the film.  It filled a gap for movie fans, and millions were sold.

I bought the guide every few years or so, whenever I felt my old one was becoming out of date.  I often disagreed with his ratings, though that was part of the fun.  But the last time I bought it was in 2003 (as I can tell by looking at my bookshelf just a few feet away).  Why?  The Internet.  With thousands of sources for such information, and above all, the IMDb, Maltin wasn't so necessary.

Which is why the latest edition of the book, which has been put out there for 45 years, will be the last.  For years sales had been going down, and Maltin can see the writing on the virtual wall.  I'll be sorry to see it go, but he's hardly the first reference to hang it up.  Maltin himself (who's a nice guy, by the way) will continue writing and talking about movies, but it's the end of an era.


Today is the centennial of Glenn Osser. (He almost lived to see it, dying earlier this year on my birthday.)  A Michigan boy who attended U of M, he went on to become a top musician, composer, arranger and orchestra leader.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do little

Fresh on the news that we're getting dumber is some good news. At least someone on God's green earth is pulling their freight.

More Things Than Are Dreamt Of In Your Philosophy

There's an updated version coming out of the excellent oral history of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Miller, bringing it into the 21st century.  Excerpts published in The Hollywood Reporter discuss what went on behind an SNL mainstay, its political satire.

Will Ferrell did a fine George W. Bush, but with the 2008 election, there was a problem that has hurt late-night humor to this day--comedy writers haven't been able to get a handle on Obama, or, more likely, don't want to. (I think he's as easy to make fun of as anyone, but if you like the guy and don't want to hurt him, it's hard to do the kind of humor SNL can be so good at.)

But something else almost made up for that--Sarah Palin. Tina Fey's Sarah Palin, which was probably the most significant political impression ever done on the show after Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford.  Not that they changed the election results--I question if SNL has ever been that influential--but boy did Fey's Sarah Palin strike a chord.

The dynamic that exists behind-the-scenes, it seems to me, is well-represented by writer Jim Downey and performer Horatio Sanz.  And I have to say, I think Sanz comes off as a bit of a dick.  A tried-and-true Democrat, he wants the show to go after the GOP ferociously, but when they go after the Dems, suddenly they're not doing it right.  Downey, meanwhile, is a moderate who's willing to go after anyone.

I could describe the fight further, but why not let them speak for themselves:

Downey: The biggest risk to doing political comedy is, you always seem to have a choice: Am I going to piss off the audience by trying to get them to laugh when they don't like what I'm saying, or am I going to kiss their ass and get this tremendous wind at my back by sucking up to them? The second way makes me feel like I cheated. I'm sure there are a lot of people in comedy who completely share every f—ing detail, jot and tittle of the Obama administration, and all I can say is: To the extent that you're sincere and that's really the way you feel, then you're a very lucky person because, guess what, you're going to have a very easy career in comedy because audiences will always applaud. They may not laugh, but they'll always give you [a] huge ovation. That's Bill Maher, you know?

Sanz: I don't think the show itself has ever let its freak flag fly in the last 20 years. Lorne's very concerned with being neutral so he wants to make fun of everyone. … He doesn't want the show to be this liberal bash rag. He may be a little more conservative than he lets on. … And you also have Jim Downey, who's basically the Karl Rove of SNL. He's always writing the right wing sketches, and honestly I think a lot of times they're out of tune with the audience. … I think Lorne sometimes leans too much on Downey and not enough on guys like Seth. Basically in the last couple of years, it's been Seth going up against Downey to set the show's tone on politics, and I think we could definitely have been harder on the right. They deserved it, and we dropped the ball as far as getting them.

Downey: My mission is to try to write a funny piece using politics as the subject matter, and so I go with what I think is the most interesting, potentially funny idea that no one else is talking about.

Sanz: The week that Nancy Pelosi was made speaker, the only thing that we could come up with at the time was, because she was from San Francisco, to make her a dominatrix. I thought that was really, really cheap. … It was pretty frustrating. And it continues to be frustrating. I don't really like watching the political scenes that much anymore because they're not written in the writers' and actors' tone. They're written like Downey wants to put this message out. And I think that's kind of shitty.

Downey: I used to write this stuff with Al Franken when we started out; I was a standard-issue Harvard graduate commie, and Al was like a Democratic Party stalwart. I had contempt for the partisan stuff. And I became more conservative over the years, to the point where I'm now a conservative Democrat, which means in Hollywood terms I'm a McCarthyite, I suppose. But I have to say, and even Franken agrees with me — I've talked to him about this — that the last couple seasons of the show were the only two in the show's history where we were totally like every other comedy show: basically, an arm of the Hollywood Democratic establishment. [Jon] Stewart was more nuanced. We just stopped doing anything which could even be misinterpreted as a criticism of Obama.


Happy birthday to jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock.  Actually, his real name was Warren Harding Sharrock, which is much cooler.

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