Spooky But Catchy
Is that time of year, Halloween. Which means we sing our favorite Halloween songs. It's not even close for mine:
Though I think if you took a poll, this one would win going away:
Is that time of year, Halloween. Which means we sing our favorite Halloween songs. It's not even close for mine:
Disney has purchased Lucasfilm for over $4 billion. There was a time Lucas thought he'd be making edgy, independent films, but I guess there are other things in life. Or is he finally going to start that phase of his life?
Dwight Schrute of The Office was going to be spun off into his own series, The Farm. It would concentrate on Dwight's life as a beet farmer running a bed and breakfast while dealing with his eccentric family. In fact, the first episode has already been shot and was to be run as a back-door pilot on The Office. However, even before it's been shown, NBC has passed, according to a tweet from Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight.
Over at the AV club they've made a bit of a stir with their top 50 films of the 90s. I'm not going to go over them all, but let's look at the list in general. Overall a lot of worthy contenders, even if they, inevitably, miss many of my favorites (like, say, There's Something About Mary), A decent mix of commercial and art films. I think they should have stuck with English-language films since foreign films opens up too many choices yet they only make token appearances.
On October 29th, 1971, guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. He was ony 24. Who knows how much more he would have done.
I just watched The Girl, the HBO movie about the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren. They made two films together, The Birds and Marnie, while Hitch made advances behind the scenes that Tippi rebuffed.
Roger Ebert gives the new Tom Hanks movie, Cloud Atlas, four out of four stars. Heres how he opens his review:
I've been watching 666 Park Avenue, mostly because it features the wonderful Terry O'Quinn. The show has a weird concept, sort of a weekly Rosemary's Baby.
It's one of the weirdest stories of the year.
At the end of this week's Parks And Recreation, just when we though the main couple would be apart, Ben appeared out of nowhere and asked Leslie for her hand. She was thrilled, of course, and accepted. This was a big moment that none of the fans were waiting for. Well, not me, anyway.
I do believe Don Was (born David Weiss) of Was (Not Was) turns 60 today.
Happy birthday, Natalie Merchant, former lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs--a band with a name more misleading than Violent Femmes. Here's some evidence:
The new TV season is in full swing, but I'm still catching up. Or maybe I've given up. There are a lot of new shows to sample, but I just don't have the time or energy.
Happy birthday, Jon Anderson. His distinctive voice sang lead on all those Yes albums. He also wrote a lot of their songs, such as...
The best-reviewed new TV show this season is probably Nashville, created by Callie Khouri, screenwriter of Thelma & Louise. I checked out the first two episodes and it's not bad.
Is it Bill Wyman's birthday already? Wyman was, of course, the Rolling Stone's bass man. He left the group twenty years ago, but he'll forever be a Stone. Rumors are he enjoyed more groupies than the rest of the band put together. It's always the quiet ones.
Most pitches don't become pilots. Most pilots don't become shows. Most shows flop. So when you have a hit on TV you've got something special. You need to nurture it, not upset its delicate balance. Sure, you've got to find your sea legs, see what works and doesn't, but major changes are just asking for trouble.
Happy birthday, Ellie Greenwich. One of the great songwriters of the Brill Building era, she left us a few years ago, but her songs will never die.
We'll have the final presidential debate tonight. The Washington Post suggests it'll be pivotal, but I doubt it. First, the candidates have created strong impressions from the first two debates that likely won't change short of some sort of meltdown. Second, this debate is about foreign policy, which is simply not as pressing as domestic issues right now.
Queen of the beach. 1960s. Southern California.
First the Tigers get into the World Series. Now the Wolverines beat the Spartans 12-10. As you may know, this is a huge rivalry, and the Spartans had won the last four years. Since the beginning of the Bo era, the Spartans had never even taken two in a row before.
Happy birthday, Norman Wright. He's the one with the high voice in the Del Vikings. They had three hits, all in 1957. The rest was oldies shows, but it was enough. In fact, just their fist hit was enough.
I don't have much to say about Tuesday's debate. Or is it the less said the better?
Suburgatory is one of those shows I watch as much due to location as anything else. It's on right before Modern Family (and right after The Middle) so if I'm home I'll check it out.
Congratulations to American League champs the Detroit Tigers!
Today was supposed to be the return of Community. It was scheduled for Friday nights at 8:30, a graveyard slot where it would presumably play out its 13 episodes and then go away forever. Still, a little Community is better than none.
Let me recommend Simon Garfield's Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. Before the computer age, practically no one but printers cared, or even thought about, typefaces. Now everyone is an expert. With so many fonts at our fingertips we're quite aware that the look and layout of letters not only is about readability, but mood.
Happy birthday, Laura Nyro. When you consider the diverse and amazing songs she wrote--"Wedding Bell Blues," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Eli's Coming," "Stoney End" and so many others--some written when she was a teenager, it almost seems a miracle. Her writing style seemed to be a mix of the early rock and roll with an edge of jazz, and even when she wrote about dark themes, there was a joyousness to everything she touched.
Happy birthday, Jim Tucker. He was rhythm guitarist for the Turtles in their early days. Apparently he left the band--and the music business--because he couldn't get over being insulted by John Lennon. Hey, Jim, that's just how John is.
I just read Scott Eyman's Lion Of Hollywood: The Life And Legend Of Louis B. Mayer. It's a lengthy book, but then, Mayer ruled over Hollywood for a long time. He was born in 1884 in Russia (most of the moguls of the studio years were Russian Jews). His family emigrated to Canada where he grew up, earning a living collecting scrap metal.
With another election upon us, Californians get a whole bushel of propositions to vote for. We've all been sent huge pamphlets which, considering how they're ignored, are the biggest waste of paper this side of new phonebooks.
Happy birthday, Bob Mould, lead singer and songwriter of Husker Du. They never got the commercial success they deserved (if you think punk bands--or whatever they were--deserved commercial success), but they were quite influential--their sound can be heard in bands like Nirvana and Green Day. And their music still sounds pretty good, too.
With Romney now leading in an average of national polls, some have asked me why I still expect the President to be reelected. Obviously things can change, but let's say any change is a coin flip (some say it isn't--that undecideds trend to the challenger--but that remains to be seen) and let's assume the polls are correct and the numbers will remain the same over the next several weeks.
Happy 50th, Joe Genaro, aka Joe Jack Talcum, member of The Dead Milkmen. Very few punkish bands were as much fun.
I just got a letter from Public Citizen with an enclosed petition I'm supposed to send to my Senators demanding single payer health care. There's even a pre-addressed envelope (though the stamp isn't pre-paid so that's the end of that).
Happy birthday, Cliff Richard. In America, outside a few minor hits in the 70s, especially "Devil Woman," he means nothing, but in England he's as big as Elvis. (He's not as good as Elvis, so I gotta go with America on this one.)
So it's Nobel Prize time. The science awards are almost always well-deserved. Lately, the literature prize has been as political as it's been aesthetic. But for a long time, the Peace Prize has been a joke. Still, that didn't prepare me for yesterday's punchline.
Happy birthday, Art Tatum. He was one of the most brilliant pianists jazz has ever known. (Sometimes a think maybe a little too brilliant.)
The great debate was settled last night--the Tigers are better than the Athletics.
Happy birthday Pat DiNizio, lead songwriter and singer of the Smithereens. They were never huge, but they maintained an audience.
Let's say happy birthday (yesterday, but he was never on the beat) to the guy with one of the most distinctive piano styles in all jazz, Thelonious Monk. It's not all about hitting the right notes--you gotta hit the wrong ones every now and then.
It's the birthday of Jerome Robbins, probably the greatest director-choreographer Broadway has ever known. Stephen Sondheim called him the only genius he ever met. He must have been, considering Robbins was, by most accounts, a nasty character, so why else would anyone work with him? A famous story has him berating his cast, who say nothing as he slowly backs up and falls into the pit.
It's October 10 (10/10) which means it's time to put up two songs with the same title:
I just caught this week's Homeland. I don't know if I'll be covering the show each week, but this episode, "Beirut Is Back," the second of the season, shows they're willing to go full blast.
I had no plans to read Tina Fey's Bossypants but I saw it in the library so I checked it out. It's pretty much what you've heard--a funny, breezy tour of her life. I can certainly see why it became a bestseller.
One thing I left out in yesterday's observations on travel. Why do airport terminals always have CNN on? With sound, too. If it was just CC I could ignore it and read my book. In the nearby bars they have sports on since they need to please the clientele. Who is the airport pleasing?
Back from a recent trip. A few notes on flying (or trying to):
Happy birthday, Johnny Ramone (ne John William Cummings). Johnny died about eight years ago, a couple years after Joey and Dee Dee. Hard to believe the three main Ramones are all gone.
Happy birthday to Tony Silvester, one of the members of The Main Ingredient, a popular R&B group of the 70s (which included Cuba Gooding, Sr.)
Happy birthday, Ralph Rainger. He died in a 1942 plane crash, but not before he'd written a bunch of hit songs, including, by chance, tunes that became the theme songs for Jack Benny and Bob Hope:
On a Lexus (as usual): WUT I DO. Here's what you did. You bought an expensive care and them put a dumb vanity plate on it.
I was driving through the Valley when I noticed a sign outside a party store: "A Millionaire Was Made Here." Underneath was the logo for the California Lottery.
Steve Miller turns 69 today. In the late 60s, he and his band were a respected blues-rock outfit with more than a touch of psychedelia. Then in the early 70s they turned more poppy and took off commercially.
Let's say goodbye to "Big Jim" Sullivan, one of the top session guitarists in Britain. He can be heard on literally thousands of recordings, including:
A quick note on the first Presidential debate. Following a long tradition, I didn't watch it. If anything important was said, it'll be repeated.
Carole King tells a great story in her memoir, A Natural Woman, about hanging out with John Lennon in 1976 in New York. The last time she'd seen him was 1965 when the Beatles were touring America, and he'd been very rude. She asked him about that and he admitted he'd been so intimidated by the songs she'd written with Gerry Goffin that he was afraid of saying something stupid, so just made a smart remark instead.
I saw an intriguing bumper sticker the other day: