Friday, November 17, 2006

What the Flagston Kids and Mater Would Say If the Pater Turned Cannibal (And if They Were Able to Communicate from Beyond the Grave)

Yes. A hiatus. (I hereby nominate the laborious set-up of the title above and its resolution as the lamest joke ever).

Sorry for our absence from the elctro-magnetic waves, but work and a move have slammed poor Tosy and Cosh hard. We will be gone for two weeks or so while a move-in-two-parts is made and Internet access is rare and precious, but will return for the glory that is December renewed and re-invigorated (or so is the hope). An early happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Until Whenever

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

All-TIME - (Hah!)

Time magazine has followed up its previous lists of the 100 best novels and 100 best movies of all time with its hot-off-the-presses 100 best albums of all time list (which does not rank the 100 but simply lists them by decade). Overall the list doesn't make me particularly angry or overjoyed - for the artists where I know enough of their albums to have an opinion I was non-plussed a few times (Love & Theft is a better album than Time Out of Mind). I am somewhat amused by the token efforts to be inclusive - the odd country album, rap album, jazz album - without really trying (I'd love for one of these lists to someday recognize the genius that is the original score album of West Side Story, or that classical music is put on albums), but that's par for the course.

For posterity's sake, let's see which of the 100 best albums ever I own:

Albums I Have:

Kid A - Radiohead
OK Computer - Radiohead
Time Out of Mind - Bob Dylan
Achtung Baby - U2
Nevermind - Nirvana
Out of Time - REM
Document - REM
The Joshua Tree - U2
Graceland - Paul Simon
London Calling - The Clash
Who's Next - The Who
After the Gold Rush - Neil Young
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
Abbey Road - The Beatles
At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash
Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis

Albums I Want to Have
Most of these are albums I want to get, either because of stuff I've read about them or because of what I have heard off of them:

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams
Songs in the Key of Life - Stevie Wonder
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
Horses - Patti Smith
Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson
Blue - Joni Mitchell
Moondance - Van Morrison
Astral Weeks - Van Morrison
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music - Ray Charles
King of the Delta Blues Singers - Robert Johnson
In the Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra

Until Whenever

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Top Ten

Random Top Ten!

Random Top Ten Elvis Costello Songs

10. "Toledo" - The opener to Costello and Bacharach's collaborative effort, and an insinuatingly subtle bit of songwriting featuring one damn twisty melody line.

9. "Pump It Up" - As on many a Costello track, it's keyboard player Steve Nieve's contribution that makes the song--without that insistent, angry organ this song wouldn't be nearly as good as it is.

8. "Alison" - Damn impressive for a first album cut.

7. "Veronica" - Who else writes about the elderly? Such a bittersweet song.

6. "Alibi"- I love the audacity and sheer inventiveness of this laundry list of lame excuses for bad behavior.

5. "Accidents Will Happen" - A classically constructed pop song.

4. "All This Useless Beauty" - One of Costello's most beautiful pieces of songwriting.

3. "Tokyo Storm Warning" - I love the Sesame Street-theme guitar figure, and the very Dylan-esque litany of evocative, yet not concrete, lyrics. ("The sky fell over cheap Korean monster-movie scenery/And spilled into the mezzanine of the crushed capsule hotel/Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery/And I knew I was in trouble but I thought I was in hell.")

2. "God Give Me Strength" - This is already getting covered like crazy - in 50 years this just might be the one song Costello is most remembered for--an instant classic.

1. "What's So Funny? (About Peace, Love, and Understanding)" - I hate so much that my favorite Costello song is one this remarkable, prolific, gifted songwriter didn't actually write. But it is.

Until Whenever
Calendar: Marked

Sorry for the absence--work, life, family - all have their own ways of smothering the blogging.

The second trailer for The Simpsons Movie has me mightily encouraged. I won't spoil it; just click away and laugh, and laugh. (And marvel at the animation. The real animation. You'll see. It really is sharper-looking than the TV stuff without being ostentatiously "different.")
Until Whenever

Until Whenever

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Random Top Ten
Random Top Ten!

Top Ten Plays (non-musicals)

10. M. Butterfly (David Henry Hwang) - How I wish I had had the chance to see John Lithgow in this. A tragic, sparsely beautiful play about the boundaries of love. The Crying Game before The Crying Game.

9. Deathtrap (Ira Levin) - The most ingeniously constructed play I've ever come across. Wonderfully twisty.

8. The Piano Lesson (August Wilson) - I love Wilson, and this is my favorite of his. Beautifully musical and more self-contained and tighter than much of is other work.

7. True West (Sam Shepard) - Shepard's best, a kind of duel for two intense actors. The original production starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise is legendary.

6. Equus (Peter Schaffer) - Intense drama about a horse-obsessed teenager. Wonderfully meaty monologues abound, and the two leads (the boy and his psychiatrist) are two of the best parts in the canon.

5. Love! Valour! Compassion (Terrence McNally) - McNally's play about a group of gay friends and lovers spending three summer holiday weekends together is achingly sad and poignant, joyous and wistful.

4. Angels in America (Tony Kushner) - An epic two-parter about homosexuality, the end of the millennium politics, love, faith, and about a dozen other things.

3. Our Town (Thornton Wilder) - The quintessential school play. So simply constructed, so plain-spoken, and yet in the end such a deep well of profundity.

2. Waiting for Godot (Samuel Becket) - Has a more devastating stage direction ever been written than the famous final one here?

Vladimir: Well, shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let's go.
They do not move.

1. Death of a Salesman - This play gets under my skin and won't get out. Worth seeking out the filmed stage version with Dustin Hoffman in the lead (and John Malkovich as Biff.

Until Whenever
Hollywood Strikes Again

Last night's How I Met Your Mother was a classic, with the "Barney's new name is Swarley" stuff just great. But what had me looking forward to the episode more than anything was the guest appearance by Firefly's resident escort, the luminous Morena Baccarin. So how disappointed was I to see that Baccarin--who was hardly heavy on Firefly (see above)--now looks like every other too-thin, too-gaunt-in-the-face Hollywood starlet? Her full, round (again, hardly heavy, and still miles and miles from "fat") face had immense character, and specificity of personality. She was beautiful. On Mother, she was no more than pretty--and easily too skinny (a lesson--arms should resemble, well, arms, not twigs. Bones were meant to encase meat, yes?). Tragic, in its way.

Until Whenever

Monday, November 06, 2006

The track listing for U2's new Best Of album, U218, has been released (see below). I noted here what I thought the sixteen songs included would be. I did pretty well, missing only three of sixteen - I thought for sure their first hit off of their first album ("I Will Follow" would make the cut, but wasn't to be. (It'll be a bonus track on the UK album, it seems). I also thought that the boys would want both Pop and Zooropa represented, but I was wrong, and neither "Discotheque" or "Stay (Faraway So Close) made the cut. The three songs I didn't predict were the b-side "The Sweetest Thing" (which must have been much bigger in the UK than here), "the Rattle & Hum Bo Diddley pastiche "Desire," and All That You Can't Leave Behind"s "Elevation."

1. Beautiful Day

2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

3. Pride (in The Name Of Love)

4. With Or Without You

5. Vertigo

6. New Year’s Day

7. Mysterious Ways

8. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of

9. Where The Streets Have No Name

10. Sweetest Thing

11. Sunday Bloody Sunday

12. One

13. Desire

14. Walk On

15. Elevation

16. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

17. The Saints Are Coming

18. Window In The Skies

Until Whenever

Friday, November 03, 2006

Doin' the Friday Shuffle

1. "Loveland" - Sondheim - Follies (1987 London Revival Cast)
A gaudy bit of sparkly, lush, light pastiche.

2. "Thirteen" - Johnny Cash - American Recordings
One of my favorite tracks off of this album - it has a propulsive energy that keeps the album from getting too bogged down by the laconic feel of most of the tracks.

3. "Settling up the Score" - Rupert Holmes - The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Original Broadway Cast)
The very definition of rousing, a big 'ol oom-pah Broadway number.

4. "You Still Believe in Me" - Anne Sofie Von Otter - For the Stars
A delightful cover of the Beach Boys song, impeccably sung by the opera star.

5. "An English Music Hall" - Rupert Holmes - Lost in Boston
The original opening to the aforementioned Drood, replaced before its premiere by the superior "There You Are."

6. "We're Not Gonna Take It" - The Who - Tommy
Damn them defiant hippies.

7. "Pug" - Smashing Pumpkins - Adore
One of the harder tracks off of this mostly mellower Pumpkins album, with a nicely expansive, slower chorus.

8. "The Happy Medley/Alexander's Ragtime Band" - Mandy Patinkin - Mandy Patinkin
A bit from Mandy's big-time-fun happy medley.

9. "Still Hurting" - Jason Robert Brown - Last Five Years (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording)
A tender, bruised breakup ballad, marked by some sprightly violin and cello interplay, that crescendos by the end into an expression of more anger than sadness.

10. "Berliner Messe 4. Zweiter Alleluiavers" - Arvo Part - Te Deum
Quiet and reverent.

Until Whenever
Thank God

From eonline:

Leno Turns Down Oscars

"What comedian in his right mind would turn down the chance to host the Oscars? Jay Leno, that's who. "

Until Whenever

Thursday, November 02, 2006

30 Rock
It looks like NBC is going to give new shows Studio 60, 30 Rock, and Friday Night Lights the sweeps shot to succeed - each will run (as of now, at least) throughout sweeps. I haven't seen FNL, and have already opined on S60, but haven't said boo about 30 Rock.

I've actually only seen the pilot and one more episode, although last night's fourth episode is Ti-fauxed and awaiting. So far I'm liking, if not in love with, the show. Alec Baldwin's slightly off, pompous readings are as good as advertised - in the little I saw of last night's episodes he killed merely by reciting a few ready-made catchphrases he thought should be reverse-engineered into sketches. Tracy Morgan works, I think, in small doses, but that seems to be how they're employing him here. His delivery last night of the line "make every week Shark Week" was inspired. As for the third leg in this three-legged-stool of comedy? Tina Fey is likable and natural playing herself, but falls apart when actual acting is called for. (She reminds me greatly of Jerry Seinfeld in this way). Last week's episode had a recurring bit with her single and alone Liz Lemon character choking and having to self-administer the Heimlich maneuver. The bit called for some deft physical comedy, and it was almost embarrassing how badly she executed it. It brought to mind nothing more than first-year acting classes having to improvise a silent, natural moment in front of the class. Contrast that moment with a moment from last night's ep in which Lemon's colleague kicks a chair on wheels in anger and falls. Expertly executed slapstick.

Still - it's not as if they are pushing the physical comedy, and, like I said, when she's simply plying herself (which is most of the time) Fey is fine. And overall the show has a nicely honed mildly surrealist vibe going - the jokes tend to be smaller and more "sketch-comedy" like than sitcom-like, and that works well. I, for one, am hoping that the show finds an audience.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sound the Hunting Horn
The NBA season begun last night, although my beloved New Jersey Nets don't kick-off until tonight. As I did last year, I'll be predicting the finishes for the conferences, and, I'm sure, as I did last year, I'll be woefully inaccurate.

1. New Jersey Nets - A cock-eyed optimist am I. Seriously though, while this may be a bit over-optimistic, the Nets do figure to have a good year - rookie Marcus Williams, in particular, is promising to (finally) be the trusted backup to Jason Kidd they've never really had. Add a maturing Richard Jefferson, a Vince Carter in a contract year (read: with something to prove), a primed-for-breakout Nenad Kristic, and a proven runner and shooter in Eddie House and a Nets final appearance is hardly pie-in-the-sky.

2. Miami Heat - As much as I don't like the team, and loathe Alonzo Mourning, what they did last year can't be overlooked. But O'Neal just gets older and Wade won't be able to carry the team all by his lonesome. I'm predicting that last year will be a fluke, an experiment that paid off but that won't again. (Then again, I predicted that they would barely make the playoffs last year - so what do I know).

3. Cleveland Cavaliers - The coronation of LeBron James is coming, but not imminent. He still has no Scottie Pippen to join forces with.

4. Chicago Bulls - A lot of seers are predicting a conference finals berth for the Wallace-fied Bulls. They'll be good, but that good?

5. Detroit Pistons - Like most, I think the loss of Wallace will deal a real blow.

6. Washington Wizards - Gilbert Arenas is the real deal, but what's that old saw about defense again?

7. Orlando Magic - Because I'd like to see Grant Hill get one last swing at the playoffs.

8. Indiana Pacers - A shell of what they were just two years ago, but hardly horrible.

9. Milwaukee Bucks - The team I always forget about.

10. Toronto Raptors - A growth year that leaves them out of the playoffs, but barely.

11. Philadelphia Sixers - A team that needs to rest, badly.

12. - Boston Celtics - Youth that will still be too young.

13. - New York Knicks - I am hoping fervently for the arrogant Isaiah Thomas to fall flat.

14. - Charlotte Bobcats - Still floundering.

15. - Atlanta Hawks - Still hopeless.


1. Dallas Mavericks - Nothing has changed, has it? And they should be just as hungry after a tough fight against Miami in last year's Finals.

2. San Antonio Spurs - Again, the core is still all there - the core that won it all a year ago.

3. Phoenix Suns - I'm guessing that Stoudamire won't be the same post-surgery, and that without him the Suns are very good but not champion-level.
4. LA Clippers - The revenge of the downtrodden!

5. Houston Rockets - Is this the year the lauded McGrady-Ming combo finally gets it all together?

6. Utah Jazz - The Bulls of the West.

7. LA Lakers - Kobe'll get them into the playoffs, but won't have enough to work with for much more.

8. - Denver Nuggets - Dysfunctional. And Carmello Anthony just isn't at the same level as Wade and James, no matter how much the powers-that-be wish he were.

9. - New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul will need another year or two to make this team playoff-level.

10. - Sacramento Kings - When will Artest implode this year?

11. - Memphis Grizzlies - When your star breaks his foot in the summer . . .

12 - Golden State Warriors - You know, I'm not sure I have any idea who is on this team. Baron Davis?

13 - Seattle Supersonics - Stuck in the mud.

14 - Portland Trailblazers - Will compete mightily with Atlants for the league's worst record.

East Finals

Nets over Heat

West Finals

Dallas over Suns

NBA Finals

Nets over Dallas

What? A man can dream.

Until Whenever