Finally, Something Important
required to wear bikinis.
This is sad news. Think of those poor athletes who may now be stuck in those baggy clothes. How can we do this to them? Why not just make them wear a burka?
I may not watch in protest.
required to wear bikinis.
A lot of prominent Democrats are having fits over the Obamacare case. I'm not sure if they're writing editorials to convince the Supreme Court to come around, are preparing the way for the new spin if they lose, or are just blowing off steam. Regardless, some of the stuff is pretty funny.
Frankie Laine died a few years back. If he were still alive, he'd turn 99 today. He sang all sorts of songs, but he's best known for Western music, including themes for movies and TV shows:
It took me a few days to catch up on Mad Men, so it wasn't until the end of the week that I caught up to last Sunday's Once Upon A Time, "Hat Trick." And as the first season winds down, the story is going in odd directions.
Bluegrass banjo player extraordinaire Earl Scruggs has died. He was best known for his work with guitar player Lester Flatt, and their best-known number was "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."
It's the birthday of Albert Von Tilzer. The name may not ring a bell, but he was a Tin Pan Alley composer of some repute. His most performed song is, easily. "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." But my favorite is a novelty number known as "Oh By Jingo!"
Not one to ignore cultural phenomena, I attended The Hunger Games. It wasn't until a few months ago that I heard of the film, much less the books--I rarely read modern fiction, and when I do it's not Young Adult. ("Young Adult." What a good title for a bad movie.)
I've watched Congress in session on C-Span. For the most part, pretty dull. The stuff that's interesting--putting the legislation together and making deals for votes--goes on behind the scenes.
I finally caught up with the two hour Mad Men premiere, "A Little Kiss," and it was like catching up with old friends--a bit awkward at first, but it wasn't long before we were back into the swing of things.
Yesterday I noted the Supreme had 12 #1 hits in the 60s. This included a streak of five in a row and a later four in a row. But not everything went to the top (maybe a Beatles song was blocking it). Still, the also-rans are just as good.
I was just in my local 7-Eleven, waiting behind a line of people buying lottery tickets. Apparently, the Mega Millions jackpot is higher than ever--estimated at $363 million. What fascinated me was not that so many were buying tickets. In fact, it was fairly rational activity (for lottery ticket buyers)--it's always a buck a ticket, so why not wait until there's a bigger payout.
Happy birthday, Diana Ross. In the 60s, the Supremes has 12 #1 hits--far more than any act except The Beatles. Those songs still sound great. Here are three of them:
The fifth season of Mad Men premiered last night and the critics like what they see. Unfortunately, I was interrupted a few times during the first hour so I didn't even watch the second. I'll catch up later this week. In the past, I've given (the rare honor of) day-after, beat-by-beat reviews of the latest, but we'll see this season. Even when it's back to one hour, there are a bunch of other things I watch Sunday so I don't know if I'll have the time.
And a happy birthday to Martin Short. Like others on SCTV, he went into movies, but was a born sketch performer. His most famous character is Ed Grimley, but there are so many others.
It's the birthday of Bela Bartok. His modern look at ethnic music is especially memorable.
With the recent shooting in France of a rabbi and three Jewish children, people are wondering about anti-Semitism in Europe. Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, claims that European nations are far more anti-Semitic that the United States.
Okay, it's been a while, but for those of you who missed it, here's a very simple explanation of the ending of Lost.
Ann Althouse responds to The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn and his claim that Bush v. Gore altered history. Cohn writes "Just think how the years after 2001 would have unfolded if Al Gore had been president." Althouse notes the obvious (to everyone but Cohn): if the Court allowed the recount to go ahead as planned, Bush would have won. She also claims, in any case, Gore would have responded vigorously to 9/11.
Happy birthday, Dave Frishberg. He's one of the more unusual songwriters and singers of our day.
Bob Dylan allegedly didn't think much of the Beatle's "Michelle." He felt rock and roll and other blues-based music was what they did well, while there were simply tons of Tin Pan Alley tunes already out there and was no need for the Beatles to come up with their own versions. Dylan was wrong. The Beatles, especially McCartney, had a gift for melody, and there was no reason to stifle it.
Happy birthday, Harry Vanda. He was lead guitarist of The Easybeats. The band was made up of Australians originally from Europe. Vanda himself was Dutch.
It appears that Mitt Romney has got the Republican nomination almost sewn up. Santorum has done better than expected--won a bunch of states, even in Gingrich's South--but he doesn't have the money, organizaton or support to finish on top.
Happy birthday, Johann Sebastian. He's such a part of the scenery today it's hard to believe for a few generations after his death he was mostly forgotten by the public.
Happy 90th, Carl Reiner. He's done it all in comedy. As a writer, actor and director, he's succeeded in TV, films, books, recordings and the stage.
Willly Loman in Death Of A Salesman is one of the most notable modern roles an actor can attempt, so any new Broadway production is a big deal. The part was played by Lee J. Cobb and has since been done by George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Brian Dennehy and now, in a new Mike Nichol's-directed revival, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Big controversy over Mike Daisey's monologue about Apple's sweatshops in China. Apparently some of the horror stories he related about the workers and their conditions he didn't personally observe or didn't happen at all. A section of his one-man show was broadcast on This American Life and became one of its most popular pieces ever. Over the weekend the show did an hour looking into what Daisey got wrong and how they allowed it on the air.
Pretty stupid anti-Community piece by Larry Fitzmaurice in GQ. As far as I can gather, these are his complaints:
Happy birthday, Wilson Pickett. In his prime, he was as electrifying a performer as there was.
It's been twenty years since the release of My Cousin Vinny. The low-budget film got good reviews and did surprisingly well. I think it still holds up as a smart (certainly smarter than expected) courtroom comedy.
I was getting to like Luck, the HBO series centered on a race track, so I'm sorry to see it go. Earlier, two horses had died during production. When a third horse died, they shut down the show and then decided to end it.
I was just reading about Paul Cadden, the hyperealist artist. That is, he does drawings that are essentially indistringuishable from photos (he even has things in and out of focus). I actually thought it was a hoax, but it seems to check out.
The Encyclopedia Britannica is ending its print run. It's been around for 244 years, but from now on any new editions will only be available online.
Yesterday was Howard E. Scott's 66th birthday. Tomorrow is Harold Ray Brown's 66th birthday. Both are founding members of War. I believe the band is still around, but then, we'll always have War with us.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the first decade of ObamaCare won't cost $938 billion as originally estimated, but about twice as much. Remember that keeping the cost under a trillion was a big deal back when the issue was debated. The Democrats sold it that way and a number of politicians supported the bill because of this guarantee.
Today's the day--new Community. We'll get to hear that theme again, presaging another potential classic half hour. But what if they did it another way? Hmm.
A lot of people are pointing to Obama's 41% approval and saying he's in trouble. I don't think it means much except that polls are volatile at present and it's best to ignore them until after Labor Day. There are no guarantees, but the basic strengths of Obama and the weaknesses of his opponents make me stand by my prediction that he'll be reelected.
I was at my drugstore when I noticed the woman working behind the pharmacy counter was covered with tattoos--all along her arms and neck. Seemed odd.
The slimmed-down Jonah Hill hosted SNL this week and did a decent job. According to David Sims at The AV Club, here are some highlights:
Last week was Micky Dolenz' birthday so I checked out his autobiography, I'm A Believer. He updated it a few years ago, but this was the version published in 1993. It's not a long book, especially with so many scenes from his real life written in film format, turning what would be a pargraph into a couple pages. Maybe he figured hey, I'm not a Beatle, don't want to overstay my welcome. Generally a good principle in entertainment, but a book is different, and a few more chapters on the Monkees (even though he spends over half the book on them) would have been appreciated.
Charlie Parker was only 34 when he died March 12, 1955. Who knows where he would have gone next?
Over the weekend I saw two animated films dealing with little people living amongst big people. First I saw The Secret World Of Arrietty, a charming feature from Studio Ghibli, released in English through Disney. It's based on The Borrowers, the first in a series of children's novels about four-inch people who live underneath the floorboards in normal-sized people's houses. I never read the books but had seen the 1997 live action movie so I was familiar with the story.
It's Lawrence Welk's birthday. The bandleader's show ran forever, covering tunes professionally if without much feeling. I think even Welk found it corny, but what the heck, he brought entertainment to millions.
Like most computer users, I have automatic updates for some programs. Still, I was surprised after a recent update to find I now had IE9 instead of IE8. Shouldn't they ask me first?
I don't usually take requests, but someone asked for this song, so here it is:
Let's say goodbye to Peter Bergman, one of the founders of the Firesign Theater. They were perhaps overpraised, but they created a mixture of comedy, parody, satire, wordplay and surrealism that made them unique.
Last week Lou Reed turned 70, now it's John Cale's turn. He and Lou co-founded the Velvet Underground, and Cale's classical and experimental training brought a lot to their sound. That VU drone is Cale's all the way.
Some interesting book reviews in the last two New Yorkers, both teaching us about unexpected origins.
Happy birthday, Mickey Dolenz. (I'm betting he's had better celebrations.) He was the main cut-up on The Monkees, and probably had the most lead vocals on their albums. They were mocked back then by hip people, but their songs have held up better than a lot of others'.
Happy 60th, Ernie Isley. He played guitar and wrote songs for his brothers.
Robert Sherman, one of the Sherman brothers, has died. They were Disney's top songwriters for years, and wrote the songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and many others.
Two thoughts about filling the gas tank from this last weekend:
Here's one I like: 8 ONE 8. For those of you not from LA, it's the Valley's area code.
I caught the pilot of Awake. It wasn't bad. The concept is a police detective (Jason Isaacs with an America accent) in a car crash with his wife and son. His life splits into two realities--one where his son died in the crash, the other where his wife did. Or to put it more positively, both survived, just not in the same place. Whenever he goes to sleep, he wakes up in the other. So which is the dream? Is one a dream? Since we see things from his point of view, neither seems fake (and they're shot differently--one with bright, warm colors, the other with a shadowy, desaturated look).
There's been a recent controversy where some members of the Mormon church posthumously baptized non-Mormons. In particular, Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Muslim terrrorists. Obviously these Mormons think they're doing a good deed, but, especially taking into account a history of forced conversions, many Jews find this highly offensive.
Happy birthday, Penn Jillette. The first time I saw him and his partner Teller I knew this was something different and great. Since then, I've caught them numerous times and also met Penn a few times. (Actually, if you want to meet either, they run out into the lobby after their shows to talk to the audience.)
George Will has been making waves with his column on how the Republicans should concentrate on wiuning Congress this election year and essentially give up on the White House.
It's the birthday of soul singer Bobby Womack. He had a bunch of hits on the R&B charts, but his only top ten song on the Billboard Hot 100 was "Lookin' For A Love."