Friday, June 29, 2007


Watching the (interminable) five-part finale of Studio 60 (finally) conclude last night, I was struck again that much of this could have been salvageable had Sorkin made the show within a show a late-night news show (something Nightline-like) and not a sketch comedy show. That would have let him embed the political stuff a lot more smoothly. As it was, a lot of the comedy stuff felt forced and faked, and the political stuff - generally speaking, the good stuff - felt shoehorned in. Even the Harriett-Matt stuff might have worked better in such a scenario - neither Harriett or Matt ever felt loose or cutting enough to be comedy geniuses, but instead felt oddly buttoned-up - which might have worked well for a writer and anchor at a news show.

That being said, the series did give us some nice moments, the Christmas episode being the highlight, especially the brass band finale. And it showed us that Bradley Whitford could play someone besides Josh Lyman (his Danny was different enough to impress, if not different enough to wow me) and that Steven Weber has real chops.

What last night's finale really left me wondering, though, is if Sorkin - who has a new Broadway play scheduled for the Fall and a Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts political film scheduled for Christmas release - will at some point return to TV. I still suspect that TV is his natural medium, although the aforementioned projects may in the end prove me wrong. But this can't have been a fun experience, especially given the clearly personal nature of the writing. Has he been scared off for good? Or will learn from the mistakes made here and try again at some point? I'm curious to learn the answer.

One more thing - how weird must it have been for Kristen Chenowith (the real-life inspiration for the Harriett character) to watch that episode?

Until Whenever
Doin' the Friday Shuffle

1. "The Sounds of Silence" - Paul Simon (sung by Jason Raize) - Paul Simon - Broadway Sings the Best of Paul Simon
Wow, this is even worse than I remembered. Just really, really bad, badly arranged, sung, and over-produced. And I like Broadway stylings!

2. "Love Takes Time/Remember?/In Praise of Women/Perpetual Anticipation/The Sun won't Set" - Stephen Sondheim - Putting It Together (1993 New York Cast)
Another loser. Not a real medley fan. Although Julie Andrews singing Sondheim does have much to recommend it.

3. "Overture" - The Who - Thirty Years of Maximum R&B
Maybe my favorite rock instrumental ever.

4. "Into the Forest" - Danny Elfman - Corpse Bride
A relatively recent acquisition I have yet to get into. The few listens I've given it, though, are encouraging.

5. "Quiet" - Paul Simon - You're the One
A slow, moody, monotonous piece. A bit too slow, moody, and monotonous, truth be told.

6. "Staring at the Sun" - U2 - Pop
A great song that got a little lost in the studio, as the live acoustic version suggested.

7. "Drifter's Escape" - Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding
I quite like the mild-mannered, shuffling phase of Dylan's career that culminated here. this song has a great little groove, and a nicely earnest and keening vocal from Dylan.

8. "My Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home" - Sting - Songs from the Labyrinth
I like this album of John Downland lute music by Sting, but maybe not as much as I expected to. Pleasant stuff, though.

9. "Rejoice" - U2 - October
That opening riff became a kind of iconic U2 riff, and rightly so. It's hard not to be charmed by Bono's earnestness here: "I can't change the world/But I can change the world in me." Cute, no?

10. "School Days Medley" - Mandy Patinkin - Kidults
consisting of a nicely arranged melding of "Inchworm," "School Days," and "Time in a Bottle." I know I said I don't generally like medleys, but, well, "generally." This one's well-executed.

Until Whenever

Things I Want Vol. XXXIII

I don't own any action figures, really. I'm not that kind of a pop culture geek. But every so often I'll see something that, inexplicably, I just want. This is one of those times.

I have no idea why, but this Freddie Mercury action figure just speaks to me. It calls to me. I wants it.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What 2007 Film Are Tosy and Cosh Most Excited About?

When will we get a trailer? Or a picture? Or a hint of what Johnny Depp will sound like singing? Soon, I hope.

Until Whenever
Name That Tune

Giving up. Below are the the answers for the other seven lyrics.

Keeping this on top for a while in hopes of getting some more folks to play along. Samurai Frog, the only guesser this far, got two.

A fun meme stolen from the Samurai Frog. iPod on random, I post a lyric, you guess the song! I will only put up ten of these though, because . . . well, because I'm lazy. Guesses in the comments!!

Jonathan Larson - "La Vie Boheme," from Rent
To hand-crafted beers made in local breweries
To yoga, to yogurt, to rice and beans and cheese
To leather, to dildos, to curry vindaloo
To huevos rancheros, and Maya Angelou

Stephen Sondheim, "First Letter," from Passion
Clara, I cried
Imagine that, a soldier who cries
I had to hide my eyes, so the others on the train
That carried me away from you
Would think I was asleep

Bob Dylan, "A Simple Twist of Fate," from Blood on the Tracks
They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark
She looked at him and he felt a spark
Tingle to his bones.
Twas then he felt alone
And wished that he'd gone straight

"Can't Stand Losing You" - The Police
I guess this is our last goodbye
And you don't care, so I wont cry
But you'll be sorry when I'm dead
And all this guilt will be on your head
I guess you'd call it suicide
But I'm too full to swallow my pride

Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, "Rhode Island Is Famous for You"
Copper comes from Arizona
Peaches come from Georgia
Lobsters come from Maine
The sweet fields are the wheat fields of Nebraska
And Kansas gets bonanzas from the grain

Norman Stiles and Christopher Cerf, "Put Down the Duckie," sung by Ernie and Hoots the Owl
Excuse me, Mr. Hoots
I hate to bug a busy bird
But I want to learn the sax
And I need a helpful word
I always get a silly squeak
When I play the blues

Stephen Sondheim, "Waiting Around for the Girls Upstairs," Follies
Hearing the sound of the girls above
Dressing to go on the town.
Clicking heels on steel and cement
Picking up the giggles floating down through the vent
Goddamndest hours that I ever spent

"An Cat Dubh, U2, Boy
And in the daylight
A blackbird makes a violent sight
And when she is done
She sleeps beside the one

"Type" - Living Colour
We are the children of concrete and steel
This is the place where the truth is concealed
This is the time when the lie is revealed
Everything is possible, but nothing is real

"Oh, What a Circus!" - Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice (sung by Mandy Patinkin) - Evita
Sing you fools, but you got it wrong
Enjoy your prayers because you haven't got long
Your queen is dead
Your king is through
And she's not coming back to you

Until Whenever
Random Top Ten

Random Top Ten!!!

Top Ten TV Theme Songs

Well not so random, actually. Ken Levine notes a passing meme asking bloggers to list their favorite TV themes. So:

10. Welcome Back, Kotter
So sweet and nostalgic and yet not cloying. Like the theme much better than the show, actually.

9. Chicago Hope
The original theme was a beautiful piece of music, with some elegant trumpet fanfares. They switched it out after the first season for something serviceable, but lesser.

8. Peter Gunn
As a child of the 80s, this is of course the theme to the arcade game Spy Hunter. So cool.

7. M*A*S*H
Such a sad, despondent little tune for a comedy.

6. Incredible Hulk
A perfectly simple and effective moody, sad piano theme.

5. Mission Impossible
An instantly iconic piece of music-making. One of those melodies that seems like it always existed.

4. The Simpsons
As much as I love Alf Clausen's scoring work for the series proper, Danny Elfman contributed a remarkable bit of music here, with snappy horns and a sense of controlled chaos that fits the show to a T.

3. Sesame Street
Come on. This is good stuff.

2. The Muppet Show
My pulse still quickens upon hearing this, just as it did when the show would start when I was a kid.

1. Taxi
One of only two of these themes on my iPod (the other is the Sesame Street theme, which is on a decent CD of music from the show I got for my kids). A great little smooth jazz piece, with that distinctly 70s combo of flute and electric piano.

Until Whenever

Monday, June 25, 2007


I know I'm a little late to the party, but late last week, the image below was released of Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones gear. And it has me very encouraged about this fourth Indiana Jones adventure. What I like most about the image is how Ford doesn't look silly in it, while at the same time not looking young either. This film will reportedly be set in the 1950s, making our Indiana in his fifties I think, so he's supposed to be older and wearier, and more beaten in. What this signals to me is that the film isn't being envisioned as so much of a part four, but as an epilogue to the series, with Indiana Jones finding himself embroiled in one last adventure. So where in the first three films, we got the sense that the adventures in question were in a series of adventures our hero found himself regularly involved in, here we'll find a retired hero surprised to be faced with one last adventure. And in that context, the film will be largely about Indiana Jones as an older, slower, but still whip-smart (pun clearly intended) hero - and not the same Indy he was n the 30s, just, you know, wrinklier. At least that's my hope.

Fingers crossed.
Until Whenever

Friday, June 22, 2007

Doin' the Friday Shuffle

1. "If God Will Send His Angels" - U2 - Pop
An underrated U2 song, featuring a strange mix of optimism and fatalism, along with some of Bono's stronger lyrics.

2. "Cucko!" - Benjamin Britten - A Ceremony of Carols
Just a delightful set of choral music.

3. "Miss Saigon Farewell (Why God Why?)" - Gerard Allessandri - Forbidden Broadway: 2001 A Spoof Odyssey
A pretty good parody song about the end of the British pop-opera musical reign on Broadway, inspired by the closing of Cats and Miss Saigon in the same year.

4. "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" - Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
One of Dylan's more rollicking numbers, with a nice build. By the time he gets to the final "sooner or later" he's nearly ecstatic.

5. "Crocodile Rock" - The Beach Boys - Two Rooms: The Music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin
A pretty wretched cover of a pretty dopey Elton John song.

6. "Welcome" - Pete Townsend - Tommy (Original Broadway Cast)
This is actually very faithful to the Who's original album, with a pretty nicely balanced mix of real rock sound and legit Broadway voices.

7. "Old Abraham Brown" - Benjamin Britten - A Ceremony of Carols
What are the odds?

8. "Charlie's Temptation" - Michael Giacchino - Lost - Season 2
A short, moody piece from maybe my favorite soundtrack of last year.

9. "Plenty Bambini" - frank Loesser - The Most Happy Fella (2000 Studio Cast)
A bit overwrought for my tastes.

10. "Le Pavilion" - Philip Glass - La Belle et la Bete
I would really love to see this one day. (La Belle et la Bete is an operatic version of the Jean Genet silent film version of Beauty and the Beast, with Philip Glass providing music for opera singers to sing along with the film. I love the concept, and would love to see it in action.

Until Whenever

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Silly Sarah

This is one of the best inane uses of the word literally I've seen in a while:

Sarah Jessica Parker, in an interview with Cathy Horyn in the New York Times, on her new clothing line:

"I have to be involved literally down to splitting the atoms."

Isn't the image of SJP in a lab coat, fiddling with a particle accelerator, just too cute for words?

Until Whenever
10 Years Later

As per my contract as a pop culture blogger, I will post the new list of the American Film Institutes's top 100 American films, with commentary. A bold film is one I've seen, a blue one is one I would like to see, and an red one is one I have no desire to see.

General thoughts: I was pretty surprised that only four films from the last ten years made the cut this time around (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Sixth Sense, Saving Private Ryan, and Titanic), but suspect we'll see some others get in in 2017. Nice to see ,though, that so many films that were eligible last time but didn't get on did this time--including Toy Story and The Shawshank Redemption.

My biggest overall reaction to the list is that too much emphasis is placed (at least by the 1,500 voters) on innovation. Yes, Toy Story was remarkably innovative, and paved the way for a whole new style of storytelling in film. But several of the films that came after it, including its sequel and Finding Nemo have surpassed it, not just in technical achievement but in overall quality as well. I know that the estimation of "overall quality" is subjective, but I sense that for many voters Toy Story got a nod simply because it was the first. I'd say the same for Snow White, the only other animated film on the list. Is it really the case that the first animated film, made in 1937, is the best animated film, and that in 70 years not one animated film has surpassed it? I don't think so. But because it was groundbreaking, it gets noted. I'd just like to see voters credit innovation and being "the first" a little less. Were they to do so, I think we'd see Citizen Kane start to drop as well - after all, almost every article you read about its genius cites how many things it did first.

And now the list. Courtesy of Edward Copeland on Film, the numbers in parenthesis are the rankings from the original list.

1. Citizen Kane (1941) (1)
As I said above, I think this film's estimation is based too much on how innovative and influential it is. It is great, but I'd argue that other films took its innovations and achieved more with them.

2. The Godfather (1972) (3)
Nice to see this move up a slot.

3. Casablanca (1942) (2)
No arguments from this quarter.

4. Raging Bull (1980)(24)
A pretty huge jump, from 24 to 4, and one that. frankly, puzzles me. I've seen a fair number of Scorcese's films, and I'd rank Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, hell, The Departed over this. I never quite understood the love this film gets. I enjoyed it well enough, but found it a bit slow, overly deliberate, and a tad too conscious of its own black and white artiness.

5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)(10)
I love Singin' in the Rain, but this seems overly generous.

6. Gone with the Wind (1939)(4)
No desire. Part of me feels I should see it, but I can't work up the will.

7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)(5)
My thinking is that I'll start putting the ones I want to see in my Blockbuster queue, in order. This, then, goes first.

8. Schindler's List (1993)(9)
And the inching up begins. Anyone doubt this will move up another slot or two in 2017?

9. Vertigo (1958)(61)
A huge jump, and one I don't quite get. But I've never seen it, so can't argue. Still, my aforementioned plan is breaking down - there are other films on this list I want to see before I see this.

10. The Wizard of Oz (1939) (6)
This will likely drop out of the top ten in ten years, and that's OK. Still an amazing film. Part of what I love about it is that in amidst all of the tricks and awe-inspiring tings film can achieve, a woman singing a song on a stage in front of a backdrop is still about as powerful a thing as you can get at the movies.

11. City Lights (1931)(76)
Shameful admission #1. I have never seen a Charlie Chaplin film. I guess I should start here.

12. The Searchers (1956)(96)
Shameful admission #2. I have never seen a John Ford film. I guess I should start here. And let's take a moment to note the huge jump. What's going on there?

13. Star Wars (1977)(15)
A little bump. Nice. Although this points to the same "innovation over overall quality" argument from above. I mean, don't most people acknowledge that The Empire Strikes back is a better film?

14. Psycho (1960)(18)
That's a mild blue, though.

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)(22)
I do not like this film. Too enchanted with its own deepness - like The Matrix.

16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)(12)
Nothing grabbing me.

17. The Graduate (1967)(7)
Happy to see this drop some. It's a very well done, funny movie but a bit overrated.

18. The General (1927)
From not on the list at all to #18. Wow. (Although to be fair, this could have been at #101 last time. Which raises a point - how great would it be for AFI to release the entire list, with vote tallies, so we could see what missed the top 100 and by how much.)

19. On the Waterfront (1954)(8)
this will likely be #2 on the Blockbuster list. I do know, and love, the Leonard Bernstein score.

20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)(11)
This dropping some is fair.

21. Chinatown (1974)(19)
Another one I just didn't get. I liked it well enough, but this great?

22. Some Like It Hot (1959)(14)
I love Jack Lemmon, so make it #3.

23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)(21)
Actually, this might be #3. I love the novel, and the clips they showed last night were very compelling.

24. E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)(25)
Holding steady, as Casey Kasem would say.

25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)(34)
Crap. maybe this should be #3. Or #2. I really want to see this.

26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)(29)
Jimmy Stewart dos righteous indignation like nobody's business.

27. High Noon (1952)(33)
Not a huge Westerns fan.

28. All About Eve (1950)(16)
Seemed a bit dated in the clips. Dropped quite a bit too.

29. Double Indemnity (1944)(38)
Not that high up though.

30. Apocalypse Now (1979)(28)
This has been on my Blockbuster list for a long while. got to move it up.

31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)(23)
This is pretty high up on the list as well.

32. The Godfather Part II (1974)(32)
I always find the Cuba stuff a little slow and confusing. Otherwise genius.

33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)(20)
I should go through this list and see how many films The Simpsons has parodied. Probably most of them.

34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)(49)
See above.

35. Annie Hall (1977)(31)
Up there.

36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) (13)
Way up there. Shameful admission #3 - I have only seen Alec Guinness in Star Wars films. Bad me.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)(37)

38. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)(30)
And again.

39. Dr. Strangelove (1964) (26)
George C. Scott was great in the clips.

40. The Sound of Music (1965)(55)
Probably a bit too high.

41. King Kong (1933)(43)
As is this. I know this makes me sound like a neanderthal, but in what way is this film better than the 2005 remake? It's not better acted, or directed, and the special effects are obviously worlds apart. (OK, it's better scored). Oh, yes - but it was first.

42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (27)
Screw Warren Beatty; it's Gene Hackman that rules.

43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)(36)
I don't think I have ever not liked Dustin Hoffman in a film.

44. The Philadelphia Story (1940) (51)
for some reason, I feel really guilty about this one.

45. Shane (1953)(69)
The story Jeff Bridges told about his brother ruining the fight scene was hilarious. Still - Western.

46. It Happened One Night (1934) (35)
Nothing grabbing me.

47. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)(45)
I've read the play.

48. Rear Window (1954) (42)
I'll get to it some day.

49. Intolerance (1916)
I'm not quite enough of a film buff to rent this.

50. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Prediction: In 2017 this moves up, and The Return of the King joins it on the list.

51. West Side Story (1961)(41)
This should be higher than The Sound of Music.

52. Taxi Driver (1976) (47)
Liked it a lot, didn't fall in love with it.

53. The Deer Hunter (1978)(79)
Need to see if only for Christopher Walken.

54. MASH (1970) (56)

55. North by Northwest (1959) (40)
Someday later.

56. Jaws (1975) (48)
A bit too high.

57. Rocky (1976) (78)
A lot too high. Should be in the 90s.

58. The Gold Rush (1925) (74)
We'll have to see how much I like the first Chaplin I rent.

59. Nashville (1975)
Want to see more now after the brief segment on it.

60. Duck Soup (1933) (85)
Shameful admission #2. I have never seen a Marx Brothers film. I suck.

61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
No real interest.

62. American Graffiti (1973)(77)
One day.

63. Cabaret (1972)
One day sooner. And did Liza Minnelli look good, surprisingly healthy and cogent, or was it just me?

64. Network (1976) (66)
Although I kind of feel I have already seen it.

65. The African Queen (1951) (17)
Big drop - wonder why? And I'm starting to get depressed by the number of these I want to see.

66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (60)
Should be moving up, not down.

67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Another play I've read.

68. Unforgiven (1992)(98)
I actually need to see this again. Especially considering its jump.

69. Tootsie (1982) (62)
Is it possible that Bill Murray was never better than in this?

70. A Clockwork Orange (1971) (46)
Although it looks frightening.

71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Bet this moves up in '17.

72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Bet this moves up more.

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)(50)
I don't know. This might have to be #1 on my Blockbuster list.

74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)(65)
Maybe a little too high.

75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Not urgent.

76. Forrest Gump (1994)(71)
Probably a little too low.

77. All the President's Men (1976)
Hoffman and a William Goldman script? I need to get on this.

78. Modern Times (1936) (81)

79. The Wild Bunch (1969) (80)
If I had more time, maybe.

80. The Apartment (1960) (93)
Another Lemmon I need to see.

81. Spartacus (1960)
Depression mounting.

82. Sunrise (1927)

83. Titanic (1997)
Bet this drops out in '17. It shouldn't.

84. Easy Rider (1969) (88)
Dirty hippies.

85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
I still suck.

86. Platoon (1986) (83)
Can charlie Sheen act?

87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
That knife moment they showed looked pretty killer.

88. Bringing Up Baby (1938) (97)
Not enough time.

89. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Will move up. And should.

90. Swing Time (1936)
Don't remember anything about this.

91. Sophie's Choice (1982)
I've seen the end already.

92. Goodfellas (1990) (94)
May drop off in '17. Wouldn't crush me.

93. The French Connection (1971) (70)
Does the film tell us why he's named "Popeye?" I've always wondered.

94. Pulp Fiction (1994) (95)
I'm actually very surprised that this didn't move up more. I love, though, that of the three films that vied for awards in 1994 (Forest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, and this), it's Shawshank that came up highest.

95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
Getting to suicidal levels.

96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
Very happy to see this make it. One of my favorite films.

97. Blade Runner (1982)
Another one that I just didn't get all the hooplah about.

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) (100)
Leaves in '17.

99. Toy Story (1995)
Nemo should be here, really. Except higher.

100. Ben-Hur (1959) (72)
William Goldman's favorite movie.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Minor and Major

Two grammar things that caught my attention in today's paper:

In an Associated Press article by Justin Pope on on-line college courses, he includes the sentence "The first prototype was made with a Christmas ornament." Shouldn't that be "Christmas tree ornament?" Bugged me.

An ad for a "gentleman's club" included the following:


The entirely unnecessary colon is bad enough. But mistaking "are" for "our?" Seriously?

Until Whenever

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random Top Ten!

Random Top Ten!

Top Ten Aimee Mann Songs

Note: I still do not have all of Man's albums - this Top Ten is culled from Bachelor #2, Lost in Space, the Magnolia soundtrack, and The Forgotten Arm. (I do have her Christmas album, One More Drifter in the Snow, but none of those tracks made the cut.

10. "Goodbye Caroline"- The Forgotten Arm
Uptempo for Mann, with an angry/regretful chorus.

9. "Red Vines" - Bachelor No. 2
Not sure what to make of the drum machine-sounding percussion, but this has a soaring, indelible chorus.

8. "Nothing Is Good Enough" - Bachelor No. 2
I love the carnival-like oom-pah beat of the accompaniment.

7. "Dear John" - The Forgotten Arm
A great opening salvo in a concept album that tells a story. "Cotton candy was king on the Midway that Spring." could be the first sentence of a short story.

6. "Deathly" - Bachelor No. 2
That great opening line inspired a scene and a bit of dialogue in Magnolia. "Now that I've met you/Would you object to?Never seeing each other again?"

5. "It Takes All Kinds" - Bachelor No. 2
Gently shuffling and sweet - I love the interjected "la-la"s.

4. "Driving Sideways" - Bachelor No. 2
A great metaphor for a life out of control.

3. "You Do" - Bachelor No. 2
Enchanting. Especially that simple little figure that reoccurs after the "you do"s.

2. "Save Me" - Magnolia
That basic one-two rhythm gets in your head.

1. "Wise Up" - Magnolia
The use of this song in the film, with each member of the cast singing along with Mann on the soundtrack, a line or two in succession is remarkably moving. One of the saddest, most moving songs I know.

Until Whenever

Monday, June 18, 2007

Movie I've Recently Seen
Sin City

I wouldn't have believed that such a faithful piece of adaptation was possible. This and 300 have me convinced that the CGI revolution will have longer, more interesting ramifications on film than just the ability to portray amazing things (a man in a spider suit swinging from building-to-building in acrobatic fashion, for example), as impactful as that will be. But CGI let Rodriguez and Miller here create a very singular, completely imagined world, a world that clearly is not meant to be "real" but that is intended to be as stylized and deliberately crafted as a Picasso painting. Put simply, Sin City is a gorgeous film, and not because it's "pretty" in the conventional sense, but because the job of creating this painted, ink-splashed world is done so committedly. I loved it. CGI has enabled filmmakers to take advantage of the benefits available to animators, while still working in live action - and the combination is stunning. Tying it all together is a great cast, and a nicely spare, tight script.

Watching the film on DVD, I did think that another opportunity to make this comic book world more of a piece was missed though - I watched with subtitles on (I often do on the train, since background noise can make dialogue muffled on occasion), and it occurred to me that the heavy use of narration - which mirrors the use of narration boxes in comic books - could have been represented not by traditional subtitles, but by actual narration boxes on screen. Just like in the comic book. That would have been cool.

Until Whenever
It's Hard to Fathom

Walgreens is a nearly $50 billion company. You would think that a vanishingly small percentage of that roaring river of cash would be spent on a few proofreaders. And yet the paper sleeves they put your photos in - of which there must be what? millions printed? - carry this tag line, copyrighted of course:

"Where America gets it's pictures." (Don't have it in front of me, so I may be off, but the typo I remember.)

Am I wrong to be as downright disturbed by this as I am? And no snide remarks about my own propensity for typos, please. Unlike Walgreens, Tosy and Cosh is a $0 enterprise.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Trio of Jeter

I'm cribbing from Mark Evanier here, but he reminded me of just how missed Michael Jeter is.

this first video is something I've been hoping would pop up on YouTube as soon as I learned about YouTube. It finally has. Michael Jeter, in addition to being a gifted actor and clown, with an empathy and warmth that radiated with the intensity of a thousand suns, could sing.

Here, he acquits himself wonderfully in his Tony-winning role in Grand Hotel.

And here, he gives perhaps the most moving acceptance award I've ever seen.

Until Whenever
On the Nightstand

Fifty Degrees Below - Kim Stanley Robinson
The second book in Robinson's global warming trilogy has a tighter focus than the first, this time focusing primarily on Frank, one of the several characters from the first book. Frank's story is a good one to focus on too, the wildly improbable love story (he meets a woman in an elevator, the elevator gets stuck, and they fall in love) is actually pretty entertaining, and his decision to embrace a rootless homelessness by building a treehouse in a park is inspired fun. The big climate event here, a brutal winter with temperatures that dip into Antarctic ranges, is, as is standard for Robinson, impeccably envisioned. I found myself a little disinterested by the spy subplot (Frank's paramour is being bugged by her husband, with Frank being tracked by the government because of his environmental work), but overall found this an engaging read - I look forward to finishing the trilogy.

The Gingerbread Girl - Stephen King (a novella that appears in this month's Esquire)
My love for Stephen King has been well-documented, and I enjoyed this story thoroughly. That being said, I did find myself wishing he had fought his instincts a bit more. The firs third of the story, which tells the story of a young woman whose infant daughter dies of crib death, and who deals with the unfathomable grief by running all the time, was gripping, believeable and deeply moving. But the last two thirds, which deal with the woman's abduction by a serial killer and attempts at escape, while excellently executed, felt tired and easy to me. It was if King started out writing a non-violent, slice-of-life story but couldn't resist taking it into the gruesome violence, thriller arena. That he is so good in that arena is comfort, sure - the scene of her initial attempts at escape had me absolutely engrossed - and yet a small part of me nags nonetheless at what "might have been."

Until Whenever

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tony Thoughts

In lazy-ass bullet point style!!
  • Did A Chorus Line really need to come back?
  • Curtains didn't look all that compelling, but did David Hyde Pierce look like he was having the time of his life, or what?
  • Audra McDonald can do no wrong. Adored the peroxide joke. (The role of Lizzie in the original 110 in the Shade was not written for a black actress. In the song she performed, in which Lizzie is proclaiming how "raunchy" she can be, there's a lyric that goes "I'll pour peroxide on my head." After singing that line, the black McDonald shook her head and (in character) said "no, I'm not gonna do that." Priceless.)
  • Frank Langella gave as eloquent and well-written speech as I've ever seen on an awards show.
  • Always nice to see someone genuinely surprised to win - Julie White was delightful.
  • A compelling reading of "Being Alive," but doesn't having him get up from the piano nullify the point of him being there in the first place?
  • Christine Ebersole was great in her number, but as my wife pointed out, the (albeit deliberate) nasally voice she affected for the song could well keep potential ticket buyers away!
  • I'm enough of a purist to find it kind of lame that Jersey Boys and The Color Purple got numbers performed, when they were year-old shows. You have to believe that the producers of Legally Blonde (which did not get a slot) were incensed.
  • I really would like to see Spring Awakening.

Until Whenever

Flotsam and Jetsam
This article floats the (spurious) idea that Dwight Schrute may be spun off from The Office into his own series. Within, the author says that "But Dwight is to "The Office" what Frasier once was to "Cheers," so the idea isn’t that preposterous." Dont'cha hate it when writers write about TV without the requisite knowledge? In no way is Dwight the Frasier analogue. Oscar, maybe. but Dwight is much more central to The Office than Frasier was to Cheers.

My three-year old daughter's response to the question "who is this?" which I posed in regard to this picture:

"The Wiggles!"
Until Whenever

Monday, June 11, 2007

Was This Really Fifteen Years Ago!

From many places (Tom most recently) I see this meme being done, and, being quite the lemming, I had to jump in. The (purportedly) 25 top-charting songs from the year I turned 18 are listed below, along with pity commentary on the same. A "?" means I have never heard of this song.

1. "Baby Got Back" - Sir Mixx-A-Lott
Hard not to admire the wordplay, if not much else. Did yield two pretty comedic bits for me - the Friends episode where Ross and Rachel's baby will only be soothed by the singing of this song and a cover done in Gilbert & Sullivan style found on-line.

2. "I'm Too Sexy" - Right Said Fred
I may not "like" this song, but I can't deny the sheer genius of its construction and catchiness.

3. "End Of The Road" - Boys II Men
Can't place it, although I understand it broke records for a length of time at #1.

4. "Move This" - Technotronic

5. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen (bigger hit as a reissue)
Mike Myers' deserves kudos for re-establishing this masterpiece of pop excess to the pop culture consciousness.

6. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana
I never got into Nirvana, but can appreciate what was done here. It is a killer riff.

7. "Save The Best For Last" - Vanessa Williams
If this is what I'm remembering, it's pretty much treacle.

8. "Come As You Are" - Nirvana
Another song I respect but don't adore.

9. "Jump Around" - House Of Pain
I do remember the ubiquity of this song my freshman year in college. And I didn't even go to many (one) frat parties.

10. "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston
I know I'm supposed to hate this and love Dolly Parton's original as part of the hip contract, but try and tell me that Houston can't sing. Overplayed to death several times over, but still a nice piece of production and singing.

11. "Twilight Zone" - 2 Unlimited

12. Mysterious Ways - U2
I never quite understood why this was the biggest of the Achtung Baby singles. I love the song, of course, and frequently quote that high b-flat at the end ("she moves with IT") as proof of Bono's under-appreciated vocal abilities, but it doesn't come near "One" for greatness, as time has pretty much confirmed.

13. "Boot Scootin' Boogie" - Brooks & Dunn

14. "November Rain" - Guns N Roses
In retrospect, overproduction was really the death of Guns 'N Roses. There's a fine piece of Queen-esque songwriting in there somewhere.

15. "I'll Be There" - Mariah Carey

16. "Lithium" - Nirvana
I really do respect Nirvana more than like them.

17. "Rump Shaker" - Wreckx-N-Effect
I guess '92 was the year of ass worship?

18. "Masterpiece" - Atlantic Starr

19. "Caribbean Blue" - Enya

20. "Baby Baby Baby" - TLC

21. "Finally" - CeCe Peniston
Was she the KD Tunstall of the day? I keep hearing that "Suddenly I See" song when I think of this.

22. "To Be With You" - Mr. Big

23. "One" - U2
This song just ages better and better. May well be the song U2 is most remembered or 50 years hence. And I'm completely OK with that.

24. "If I Ever Fall in Love" - Shai

25. "To Be With You" - Mr. big

Until Whenever

Thursday, June 07, 2007

100 Things I Love About The Simpsons

1. Homer's girlish giggle.

2. When Marge gets her hair mussed.

3. Bart's emotional voice - Cartwright does a great job at getting at that tremulous quality a kid's voice gets when they are going to cry.

4. Maggie giving the unibrowed baby the evil eye.

5. Phil Hartman's Lionel Hutz voice.

6. Phil Hartman's Troy McClure voice.

7. Moe's stubbly legs.

8. Lisa's excited little-girl voice.

9. Dr. Hibbard's non-sequiter laughs.

10. "I'd like to buy your rock."

11. Nelson's soft side.

12. The fact that any attempted musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire will have to live in the shadow of a version starring yellow-skinned people with bizzare overbites.

13. That God has five fingers.

14. Ned Flanders getting angry.

15. A yard filled with dumb Homer relatives.

16. Grampa falling asleep in the middle of a story.

17. Milhouse's flirting.

18. The Edge, Larry, and Adam rolling their eyes at another Bono speech.

19. Sideshow Bob's mellifluous voice.

20. "Itchy's a jerk."

21. Homer's conversations with his brain.

22. Roy's short-lived stay with the Simpsons in the Poochie episode.

23. Church organ version of "In A Gada Da Vida."

24. Mr. Burns' brother, George Burns.

25. Smithers' peppy sperm/

26. The tire fire.

27. Barney's Irish tenor.

28. That when the three-eyed fish blink, the eyes blink in order, and not all at once.

29. Sharri Bobbins getting sucked into a jet engine.

30. "You tried your best and failed miserable. The lesson is, never try."

31. Kearny's kid.

32. That barfly with the trucker's hat. When does he get an episode.

33. Apu's American accent.

34. Frank Grimes' death.

35. Bart wishing he had an elephant, when he did.

36. Homer's teenaged naivete.

37. Teen Marge with her hair down.

38. Principle Skinner in 'Nam.

39. Homer's reading glasses.

40. Burns: I think I'll donate a million dollars to the orphanage. When pigs fly.
(Burns and Smithers laugh, and then a pig flies by the window)
Smithers' Will you be donating that million dollars, sir?
Burns: I'd rather not.

41. Santa's Little Helper's dumb and happy stare.

42. Ralph.

43. The Philip Glass rendition of the Simpsons theme.

44. A single tear coming out of Darryl Strawberry's eye.

45. That the great boss Scorpio is a James Bond villain.

46. Lisa getting high on theme park ride water.

47. Homer using his gun to open his beer.

48. Homer's war against the hip dean.

49. Couch gags.

50. "I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman!"

51. Homer's car for the Everyman.

52. Homer losing his mother again.

53. Willie wrestling a wolf.

54. Homer eating his donut-head.

55. Cletus' theme song.

56. Comic book guy's ponytail.

57. Marge the cop.

58. Kent Brockman's Eye on Springfield montage.

59. Bart and Milhouse going crazy, Broadway-style.

60. "Sleep! That's when I'm a Viking!"

61. Bart as the doorman at a bordello.

62. The Flaming Moe theme song.

63. Jub-Jub.

64. Homer accidentally listening to subliminal vocabulary tapes.

65. Tom Jones chained to the stage floor.

66. Lisa's addiction to the Corey hotline.

67. Dental plan!

68. Johnny Carson lifting a car.

69. Bart on the Conan O'Brien show.

70. "Fame was like a drug. But what was even more like a drug were the drugs. "

71. The "you don't win friends with salad" dance.

72. Mayor Quimby's ever-present sash.

73. Mr. Sparkle.

74. Homer's mumu.

75. Homer and George Bush, Sr. fighting in a sewer.

76. The very tall man parading a pantsed Nelson through town.

77. Kirk Van Houten's "Can I Borrow a Feeling?"

78. The gay steel mill.

79. Armin Tanzarian.

80. "The goggles, they do nothing!"

81. Homer as Ganesh.

82. Jasper in the freezer.

83. Ron Howard's jerkiness.

84. Max Power.

85. A duel with motorcycles.

86. An episode devoted to mocking disgruntled fans.

87. The death of Maude Flanders.

88. Lisa's wedding.

89. Lenny and Carl's devotion.

90. "Marge, please don't tell anyone about my "busy" hands. Not for me. But I am so respected, it would destroy the town to hear it."

91. Lisa crushing on Nelson.

92. Maggie's escape from the Ayn Rand School for Tots.

93. The Simpsons doing a song and dance after having their skin ripped off.

94. A straight reading of The raven.

95. Homer's elegant eating of potato chips in space.

96. Tony Bennett's Capital City song.

97. Maggie terrorizing Homer with a nail gun.

98. Marge's portrait of Mr. Burns.

99. An angry Grampa running up to his room, slamming the door, and blasting "In the Mood" really, really loud.

100. "It's wonderful, Marge. I've never felt so accepted in all my life. These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Movies I've Recently Seen
The Departed
Having seen Pan's Labyrinth and Children of Men I'd rather either of them had won the Oscar (or at least been nominated), but that being said this was a highly entertaining film. Great performances all around (although why Wahlberg got singled out from among Sheen, Nicholson, and Baldwin is beyond me), and a twisty story that kept me on the edge of my seat. Donnie Brasco did the "perils of going undercover" thing better, but I liked how Damon and DiCaprio played very similar characters who go down very different roads.

Pan's Labyrinth

Not quite as good as advertised, but still a gorgeous, mesmerizing piece of work. The fantasy elements were wonderfully executed, with the Pale Man ranking as one of the all-time great creepy character designs, in my book at least. The brutal real-world violence was rougher and more explicit than I had anticipated - there's an early scene involving death by wine bottle that literally had me covering up the laptop screen with my hand. The one element that I can't quite grasp was the performance of the young actress who played the lead. Maybe it was the subtitles, and the fact that I couldn't exactly match her words with their meanings, but she seemed a bit flat, and unengaged at times. And yet at other times I found myself buying into her reality. But overall, this is highly recommended, with an ending that's both crushing and liberating, and one of the best endings to a film I've seen in a long while. (The advantages of fairy tales, I guess - the endings are allowed to be satisfying and not open-ended, as they seem to need to be in so much realistic fiction/film).)

Until Whenever

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Favorite Score Moments

My favorite tracks from my exceedingly humble collection of film scores. These are the musical moments that move me the most, the ones I'll listen to as stand-alone pieces, as opposed to listening to the whole score. In the order they came up on my iPod:

“The Mecha World” – John Williams, A.I.
Mirroring the odd but remarkable effective blend of Spielberg's warmth and Kubrick's coldness evident in the film, Williams gives us a theme that combines his own Romantic melodic sensibility with the incessant pulse of Philip Glass' minimalism. Shouldn't work. But it does.

“Batman Theme” – Danny Elfman – Batman
One of the great pure superhero themes. I understand that James Newton Howard deliberately didn't introduce a "theme" for Batman in the new film, wanting to hold off until the second film, when the character has earned a theme. I like the logic, but have trouble imagining a new theme worthy of this one.

“A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics” – James Horner – A Beautiful Mind
The clashing, metronomic pianos do a superb job of evoking Nash's fractured genius.

“The Secret Wedding” - James Horner – Braveheart
One of Horner's most melodic and beautiful pieces. A great stand-alone concert piece.

“Saying Goodbye” – John Williams – E.T.
The finale of E.T. is one of the most generous of Williams' contributions to film music. Appropriately for the moment and context, he doesn't restrain himself at all, giving in to the lushest, most over-the-top Romanticism of his career, capping it off with a fanfare from the horns and booming tympani. Completely earned and awesome.

“A Call to Arms” - James Horner – Glory
The Harlem Boys choir gets a lot of work, but I've never heard them used as effectively as they are here.

“Burning the Town of Darien” - James Horner – Glory
Tragic and heart-wrenching music with some wonderfully effective harmonic moments.

“Prologue” – John Williams – Harry Potter
A lot of Williams' Potter work was tired and pro forma, but true to form he delivered the absolutely perfect theme for the Potter universe.

“Locke’d Out Again” – Michael Giacchino – Lost
Giacchino's Lost work continually astonishes me. This moment, scored to Locke's betrayal by his father in Season One, is among his best, an emotional gut punch.

“Parting Words” - Michael Giacchino – Lost
From the Season One finale, as Michael, Jin, and Sawyer successfully cast off on their homemade boat. Triumphant without being pat or easy.

“Win One for the Reaper” - Michael Giacchino – Lost
The central, delicate theme of loss, used very effectively at Boone's funeral.

“The Raider’s March” – John Williams – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Iconic, isn't it? Williams can nail an identifiable theme better than pretty much anyone.

“Theme from Schindler’s List” – John Williams – Schindler’s List
A haunting piece of music, expertly assayed by Itzhac Perlman.

“Shawshank Prison (Stoic Theme)” - Thomas Newman – The Shawshank Redemption
We hear this as the bus arrives with Andy at the beginning of the movie, and it's a great piece of work. Simple in structure and yet so effective in execution.

“Shawshank Redemption” – Thomas Newman – The Shawshank Redemption
Andy escapes. What I absolutely love about this piece is how Newman takes a pretty stock movie/musical moment - the hero triumphs after much adversity and the score signals with a triumphant crescendo, replete with plenty of brass - and plays with it. The triumphant crescendo is there, but immediately following it a sad, defeated twinkly figure plays underneath the aftermath, reminding us of the true cost, of the loss Andy has experienced, of those eighteen years lost.

“Duel of the Fates” – John Williams – Star Wars Episode I
Bringing chorus into his Star Wars music quiver was an inspired decision, and this instantly-iconic track proves it.

“Across the Stars” - John Williams – Star Wars Episode II
The sad, lonely love theme from the second film is old-school Hollywood, and a neat little twist on Luke's theme from the original film.

“Battle of the Heroes” - John Williams – Star Wars Episode III
Williams final big Star Wars theme is one of his best, capturing the tragic betrayal at the heart of the Obi-Wan/Anakin relationship perfectly.

“Main Title/Rebel Blockade” - John Williams – Star Wars Episode IV
The touchstone. Lucas' original decision not to go with an actual classical music score will rank as one of his best.

“Tales of a Jedi Night/Learn the Force” - John Williams – Star Wars Episode IV
That moody, wistful minor-key Force theme is a marvel of economic writing.

“Sanctuary!” – Alan Menken – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The great unappreciated Disney animated film from the 90s renaissance, and largely die to Menken's most accomplished piece of writing. This rack is my favorite, with some big, dramatic organ and choir climaxes near the end.

Until Whenever

Monday, June 04, 2007

Crystal Ball Gazing

What will Tosy and Cosh be watching in the fall? We'd guess:

How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang, Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, and CSI: Miami.
Mother is just great and inertia will probably have me tune in to The Big Bang. The wife likes Two and a Half Men and CSI: David Caruso Loves His Sunglasses, so inertia will work there too. Heroes gets TiFauxed, as does maybe Journeyman.

The demise of Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars opens some holes, and yet remarkably none of what I'm seeing makes me want to fill them. House at 9, sure, but that's about it.

8-9 Pushing Daisies looks very interesting and may just hook the wife. But we've never seen an episode of Grey's so no spinoff for us. Over to CBS for Criminal Minds for a procedural/Mandy fix, but nothing at 10 intrigues. Bionic Woman gets TiFauxed.

NBC will keep us watching all night. No changes here.

8-9 Men in Trees was much better than its premise might suggest, so we'll come back for that, but that's about it.

I love me my Simpsons, but the musical fan in me has to check out Viva Laughlin.

Until Whenever

Since I'm coming rather late to the party, I'll offer only very brief thoughts on the season finales I've seen thus far:

Lost: I did see the twist coming, but for literally one second only (her posture as she stepped towards the light gave it away). A complete package of a season finale - suspenseful, moving, funny, exhilarating (Hurley's van charge may have been the most exciting event of the TV season for me), and shocking. I can't think of 48 hours of more anticipated-by-me entertainment than these last three forthcoming seasons.

Gilmore Girls: A remarkably effective finale, with blessedly economical closure on the Luke-Lorelai front, great use of the entire town, and some very nice moments from the elder Gilmores. Still, that the Palladinos have stated interest in a two-hour movie that would tie up loose ends is happy news.

House: If the "game-changer" truly changes the game, then excellent. If not, then a bit of noise to no effect.

Scrubs: I suspect that all of this JD-Eliot stuff is a smokescreen, a kind of Lucy and the football thing done almost to mock the fans who want them together, and that the next and final season will see that near-kiss never consummated, Eliot and Keith happily betrothed, and JD and what's-her-name happy parents. But I could be wrong.

My Name Is Earl: I loved it. And I hope they run a bit with the "Earl in jail" story and don't spring him in an episode or two. And for all that is right and holy, I hope they bring back Marlee Matlin!

The Office: Just a perfect moment at the end. Jenna Fisher earned an Emmy just with that final moment of teary happiness - so real, and so effective. And I hope that the Ryan-in-corporate story goes places, and that the character doesn't just disappear. Lots of fodder there.

Still to be seen: Veronica Mars (taped), How I Met Your Mother (missed! ugh!), and Heroes (I'm a good five or six episodes behind, actually).

Until Whenever
Soul Test

Step One: Watch this:

Step Two: Confirm that you smiled. If you did: you have a soul! If not? Not.

Until Whenever

Friday, June 01, 2007

Back! And Lazy!

As is my wont, I return from a long hiatus with a lazy meme post! Courtesy this time of that spin-kicking frog over at Electronic Cerebrectomy.

1. I've come to realize that my last kiss... was too long ago (i.e.; not today).

2. I am listening to... a lot of U2 after failing (for the umpteenth time) to convince my brother-in-law that Bono is truly the greatest rock singer ever. Ben reconvincing myself.

3. I talk... to my wife and kids more than anyone else.

4. I want... the new Michael Chabon book. And a rotisserie for my grill. And the new 100 in the Shade cast recording.

5. My best friend(s)... and I don't get together enough. The perils of adulthood and kids and responsibilities.

7. The weather is... warm and humid, but pleasantly so.

8. I hate it when people... assume the primacy of their viewpoint or wishes. Arrogance.

9. Love is... more powerful than I usually remember.

10. Marriage is... long-term. Not for the sprinter.

11. Somewhere, someone is thinking... "I'm hungry." Not as in "is it lunch time yet?" but as in "I may die today if I don't eat." How is it possible that we (I) can push that fact out of our (my) mind(s) 99.999999% of the time?

12. I'll always... want more. The curse of being human.

13. I have a secret crush on... Secret? None really. Rikki Lake is the one people usually find baffling though.

14. The last time I cried was... Months ago.

15. My cell phone is... small.

16. When I wake up in the morning... I despair at another day of work. Unless it's Saturday or Sunday. That's when I'm a viking!

17. Before I go to bed... I usually watch a little Scrubs.

18. Right now I am thinking about... how soon I can get out of here on a sunny Friday.

19. Babies are... really good at making you feel completely inadequate.

20. I go on MySpace... Almost never.

21. Today I... will finish a project at work and beat a hasty retreat to the suburbs.

22. Tonight I... will finally clean/organize the basement.

23. Tomorrow I... will spend time with two antic three-year olds. Awesome.

24. I really want to... find a more engaging, less stressful, less commutey, job.

25. Someone who will most likely repost this? I'm coming late to the party here, so likely no one. Maybe Roger.

Until Whenever