Wednesday, December 19, 2007

ACLU and Public Religion

If ideologies are really religions, then the ACLU hasn't even begun its work. They would have to take themselves out of trying to effect government. How can one keep one's religion "private?" If one’s religion truly informs all actions, then it will affect how a person responds in public. I am not talking about being inconsiderate of others, which the ACLU has no problem with. Rudeness is a virtue to them. I’m flipping through radio stations in my car with my kids, who knows what kind of language they will hear. This kind of garbage is “protected speech.”

In a small town in the Midwest or the South if a person says a generic prayer for good sportsmanship and safety for the players, how is that offending anyone? Is it that much of a burden to politely be quite for one whole minute while the majority express some kind thoughts for the teams? That is not forcing one's religion on another person, nor is it the US Legislature "establishing religion." Instead it is the courts "restricting the free exercise thereof." My thought for today.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Next Great American Band the Next Great American TV Show?

One of the other television shows we watch is the Next Great American Band on Fox. I stumbled across this the first night it was on, and as I love music, I convinced my wife to let me watch. Well, now she and the kids are hooked as well. I’ve never seen American Idol, but I take it this is similar in format except it is for a whole band, not just a singer. Several genres are represented; bluegrass, country, southern gospel, rock, pop, and heavy metal.

Clark Brothers

Of the ones left, The Clark Brothers are my favorite. They are a country gospel trio that puts everything they got into each song. Their version of the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter” was stunning. I was on the floor.

My wife likes Sixwire, a country band with lots of harmony. They put on a great live show and are fantastic musicians. Plus the lead singer is cute and has "great band hair."

Great band hair, Sixwire

Of the bands that are gone, the one that should have stayed is Franklin Bridge. These guys were seriously good. Similar in style to Living Color, they didn’t follow any one style too closely. It’s too bad they are gone, and the week they didn’t get to play, all the bands were playing Leiber and Stroller songs. You probably can’t name ten rock and roll songs without naming one by Leiber and Stroller. I would love to have heard what they were going to do with that.

I also liked Très Bien!, a 60s British Invasion type band, playing 1960s good-time rock and roll.

My kids love Light of Doom. They are a bunch of kids that are phenomenal and sound like Iron Maiden. They have a future, no doubt about that. We just pray that it doesn’t come too soon and wreck their youth.

Light of Doom

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra plays big band arraignment of the songs. They are really good. Think Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears mixed with Harry Conick Jr.

I think Dot Dot Dot or Light of Doom is out tonight. Dot Dot Dot looks like a band, but they are musically the weakest. Plus, they play New Wave. Clark Brothers and Sixwire are the bands to beat.

I may actually buy this show on DVD!


Life, the greatest TV show in A Long Time

I don’t make it a habit to shill for television shows, but the NBC show Life is one of the sharpest written programs in a long time. We only watch about 4 shows a week at our house, so I certainly may have missed some good ones, but I still think Life would be in my top-two ever.

The story is about a cop named Charlie Crews who spent 12 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He got some huge freakin’ settlement from the state when DNA proved him innocent and now he is back on the force looking for the real killer (and the one(s) who set him up) while solving 'ordinary' murders. Lots of conspiracy, everyone could be involved it seems, and Crews has accepted a “zen” way of life to deal with his anger. This makes him an annoyance to his partner and his way of speaking disarms the people he questions.

Of course, I would like to have seen him adopt a “grace” way of life. It would be interesting if Crews could meet up with a “grace” person and they could have a very interesting chat. Note to writers: don’t make the Christian a killer or hypocrite. Thanks. I hope the WGA writer’s strike ends soon so we can get back to some excellent TV. (BTW I agree with the writer’s strike, but that’s for another post.)

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Thin Man Series

Sequels are nothing new in Hollywood. But some things have changed. Where are the stars of today? William Powell and Myrna Loy are so perfect in these roles as Nick and Nora Charles, they command the screen. The level of wit in those movies is really something. Even with thin plots and some of the actors are less than A-list, the writing is sharp and the way the two leads deliver a line is something. Not just the lines, but the looks (and that is what makes stars). In one of the movies Nick tells Nora he likes their son, “We should do that again.” Nora replies, “Anytime, dear.” William Powell’s expression says more than any double entendre most modern screenwriters could accomplish. I love the way the banter just rolls from them, like it’s natural for a married couple to have fun. The wit may remind one of a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, except they don’t hate each other in the beginning. And instead of a romantic comedy, Nick and Nora solve mysteries. Their dog, Asta, steals clues.

The Thin Man really shouldn’t be the name of the series, as it applies only to the case in the first film in the series.

Many people think that old movies are safe for the whole family; that may be true. Nick and Nora are a married couple crazy about each other, they don’t swear, and they sleep in separate beds. However, In the Thin Man movies William Powell is just short of an alcoholic, in fact in the first one, I say they both are. And many things they say are suggestive in a way that is clear to most adults, but goes over the head of kids. As a woman is walking away from their table, Nora says mentions the woman’s earrings. Watching the woman walk away, Nick says “Yes, quite beautiful.” “The earrings are higher.” Nora points out.

After the Thin Man is not very good. In the second film in the series, the first 40 minutes are wasted trying to set the story up, when really, there isn’t much story to set up. Too many sets are allowed to go on for too long, looking for that extra laugh that never comes. The mystery is OK, but the banter is weak and the wit is not as sharp. One of the most clearly suggestive items is a very clear “infidelity” on the part of Mrs. Asta, the (insert a word for female dog). This is kind of amusing, but it is carried too far and goes on too long. I’m surprised there were more Thin Mans made after this one. If there is any reason to watch, it’s the lovely Myrna Loy (especially in her New Years Eve dress) and a very young Jimmy Stewart in a role you may not expect. Another adult moment comes when a microphone is discovered in the one-room apartment of a woman seeing several men. When she realizes the eavesdropper could hear “everything,” the camera goes close-up on her wide-eyed face as she gasps, “Golly!”

I once heard that the 1930s could have been the 1960s in permissiveness if the depression, followed by World War II, had not happened. People tend to go conservative when the world goes out of control. I have no idea how accurate this is, but watching some of these early 1930s movies causes one to wonder.

I will review the rest of the series soon.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

John Densmore of The Doors Won’t Sell Out

I just read an article called “Ex-Door Lighting Their Ire” by Geoff Boucher where he describes how drummer John Densmore, won’t allow Doors music to be sold to advertisers. The article was originally in the Los Angeles Times on October 5, 2005; I read it in the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006 (Da Capo Best Music Writing). The other two surviving members of the band, Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger, are quite upset with him and wish he would sell out. After all, everyone else is doing it.

The arguments for licensing are “…people don’t frown on this anymore,” and it’s “not selling out; if it’s done right, it’s giving it new life.” What they mean by that last statement is that the only way for dinosaur bands to build a new audience is to have the song played for 15 to 30 seconds to shill high-dollar merchandise. That’s wrong. How many people ask, “Who was that in that commercial? I’ve got to run out and buy that.” If they like that style of music, they can hear it on classic rock stations. I’m betting there is at least one of those just about anywhere in the US that has radio stations. And it’s not like they don’t play The Doors.

According to Boucher, Cadillac approached the Doors before they got Led Zeppelin’s song “Rock ‘n’ Roll.” They offered 15 million dollars. Tempting offer. However, as Densmore says, “… On stage, when we played these songs, they felt mysterious and magic. That’s not for rent.”

Licensing a song for a movie is less intrusive. The Doors’ song “The End” was used to great effect in Apocalypse Now. Most people won’t hear the same song 20 times during a movie like they will during a televised football game. And several times a week if they watch that much TV. But few of us will watch any movie more than a couple times in our lifetime.

Selling your song to advertisers isn’t too bad for some groups. The Soup Dragons “Don’t be afraid of your freedom” for Visa is an example. They aren’t played on the radio all the time, and I bet many people have never even heard of them. But I can’t listen to Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” anymore. Do radio stations still play that song? I’ve only heard it once on the radio since Chevrolet trucks started using it. Is Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll” going to be ruined the same way? Probably. Especially if it is used for many years. That’s too bad, cause a lot of us really love that song. I would especially hate to lose some Doors songs. I’m sure that advertisers swoon because whenever I hear “Like a Rock,” I think of Chevrolet pickups. But the down side is, I never hear that song. No one plays it. If it came on, I’d change the station.

So, as a fan, I would like to say to Mr. Densmore, “HOLD OUT! Don’t sell your songs, please.” I’ll end with the best quote of the article, “…hey, you have to respect that. How many of your principles would you reconsider when people start talking millions of dollars?” “None,” should be the correct answer.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Migraines and Prescriptions

I've gotten my migraines under control somewhat. I tried Inderal and Topamax as daily prescriptions and neither one worked for me (the Inderal is cheap try it first). They seemed to take down the severity of the pain, but I want something that keeps the migraines from happening at all. The best thing I have discovered is weight lifting. Not pumping iron, just lifting some weights every day to build up the muscles and keep blood flowing through my neck and back. I'm only benching 50 pounds, so it's not a lot. And I only do about 10 or 15 minutes a day. I did too much once and gave myself a week of headaches. It put a strain on my joints and I had to see the chiropractor about every day for that week to get it sorted out. No, just exercise to build strength and stay flexible and I'm doing pretty well. Ask around, I got the weights free from someone that had them in their basement and weren't using them. Garage sales are great places to get exercise equipment cheap, and this is the season for it. Hope this helps someone out there.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

A great post on Photographing cars

A great review of two books on How to Photograph Cars. Pithy and witty. Of course, I wrote it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Grand Duke Robert the Dulcet of Lower Bumhampton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Seems to fit.