Category Archives: Arts and Entertainment

Things you miss when you don’t watch CSPAN: Oh my.

For Facebook/Star Trek fans: Who was the speaker at the National Press Club lunch this month just broadcast on CSPAN2? Why, George Takei was the speaker.

george takeiGeorge_Takei_Sulu_Star_TrekHe is surprised to find himself a celebrity again – at age 70 -  a Facebook phenom with millions of followers. As a follower myself, I was interested to learn that when he first turned to Facebook, it was with a mission in mind -  to educate younger generations about the WWII Japanese internment in the US. Takei grew up in a camp.

Hey, he thought, maybe use some humor to get a few people to his page. Maybe that would drive some traffic. And maybe he could toss in some advocacy for gay rights? That could help a little. Maybe.

4.9 million Facebook followers says he was right. Oh my.

The story of man in 57 words?

I came upon this last night and have been coming back to it all day. It’s gorgeous and it’s dangerous. I’m interested in how others might be reading it – heck, I’m not even sure yet how I’m reading it . . . these words have not finished with me.

He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and the world’s pain and beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.

Cormac McCarthy,  All The Pretty Horses

He said that without a single comma. Note to self: fewer commas.

It soothes my soul

I’ve visited the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg (FL) three times – the last two just to stand in the same room as this, which nearly fills the space.

Ernst-Sea-of-Grass_edited-11-1024x570

An elegant and kind man with a poet’s touch

roger_ebertRoger Ebert, who died yesterday, began blogging in earnest some years back after cancer robbed him of speech. He racked up millions of hits and every post generated hundreds of comments.  I’ve written about him a few times. From March of 2010:

I discovered his blog a few months ago and was enchanted – a fine writer, a profoundly human man and very very brave. He’s wasting away from cancer – can no longer speak or eat. He doesn’t even have a jaw anymore. And yet he blogs. And he cares. And he has his finger on the pulse of the humanity that is us. I wish I knew him.

Roger Ebert’s Journal was much more than movies; while he chronicled the challenges of his illness he also wrote – always elegantly – of so many other things – of politics, music, art, children and cooking.

He and I were born in the same year, so when he wrote of his own youth, which he often did - as often happens with those battling terminal illnesses - I went back in time with him. Like in this passage from a very recent post titled “How I am a Roman Catholic”:

The nuns at St. Mary’s were Dominicans. They lived in a small square convent behind the school, holding six nuns (some taught two grades) and a cook and their housekeeping nun, who kept a sharp eye trained on us through her screen door. We had humble playground equipment, a swing set and two basketball hoops. Our principal sport was playing King of the World. This involved two boys standing on a log, each trying to push the other off. The housekeeper would open the screen door and shout, “If you break your necks, you have only yourselves to blame.”

It was from these nuns, especially Sister Nathan and Sister Rosanne, that I learned my core moral and political principles. I assumed they were Roman Catholic dogma. Many of them involved a Social Contract between God and man, which represented classical liberalism based on empathy and economic fairness. We heard much of Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum”–”On Capital and Labor.”

I’ll miss him and his writing but I’ll go back now and again to the archives. There is wisdom there.

Rich, and deserves every penny

POSTED BY ORHAN

Lincon: casting mystery

Anyone who has read down the entire cast list of the movie Lincoln  bumped into this mysterious bit of casting trivia: Kevin Kline appeared in the film as a ‘wounded soldier’. The real Kevin Kline. (The headshot in the cast list at Imdb.com is indeed Kline and even his own Imdb page lists the credit. )

I’ve been googling about the interwebs but can find no reference to this odd and utterly delightful bit of information. (I just saw the movie, but didn’t know to look for him; there were, predictably enough, many many ‘wounded soldiers’. And a lot of dead ones. Splendid movie by the way.)

Tried to see Lincoln today. Fail!

It seems my local movie emporium has discounted tickets on Tuesdays, something of which I was unaware. This is what it looked like when a friend and I got there – and this even though  staff had been walking the line telling people that if they hoped to see Lincoln, it was sold out. Turned right around – I don’t do lines. Fandango next time, but this may be the first time this place sold out. Ah, the irresisitable pull of a good movie plus a $5.00 ticket.  

We’ll try again later in the week.

The Les Mis movie will no doubt call for a double box of Kleenex; I will enjoy every minute.

Just visited Christian Mihai where I saw the official trailer for Les Miserables which opens in December. From his post:

Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech. Honestly, what more can you ask?

This new adaptation of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (well, technically it’s based on the 1980 musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg) is set to be released on 14 of December 2012.

UPDATE: TheOtherSteve tells me in comments that the opening has been moved to Christmas Day.

Take a bow. Exit left.

with Patricia Neal in “A Face in the Crowd”

Imagine an actor who made his film debut as the named lead in a movie that is still a classic.

Well done.

I can’t wait for the Billy Jean version

Rita Hayworth dances to Stayin’ Alive.

Rap re-envigorated poetry. So, good that.

My generation mostly doesn’t enjoy Rap or hip-hop and I understand that entirely. Each generation clings to the familiar; each generation finds the following ones lacking; each generation declares the end of history with their own passing.

And so, Rap music and hip-hop have been invisible to those of us who grew up on a different sort of music. Which is too bad, because there’s value there.

The impact has been that the lyrics brought poetry back from obscurity, back into the mainstream, and introduced it to those who might have lived a life without ever reading a line of verse. So much of this is poetry, a vigorous and relevant poetry. Some of it is vulgar or obscene (James Joyce anyone? Henry Miller?), some is vapid (How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?) and will soon be forgotten, but much of it touched on the human condition in a way that resonates with new generations.

One of the biggest of the hip-hop cross-over acts in the 80′s and beyond was certainly The Beastie Boys, who gained respect even amongst black fans. They did plenty of silly party stuff and were never high art. But they expanded a genre, a genre that I think was important. So RIP and fare thee well to founder Adam Yauch. This old lady thinks you done good.

Here’s a video by a rapper Mr. Lif (new to me,  but I’ve been cruisin’ around here and found this. I like it, especially the lyrics).

Watch. Then softly wipe that tear

Remember Rush and the Viagra and the cops?

An oldie but very relevant goodie here. (Was he procreating I wonder – and how did that go?) Hat tip to friend Ed – great find!

Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at the airport after returning from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. Customs officials found the Viagra in his luggage but his name was not on the prescription, said Paul Miller, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. . . .

In true celebrity fashion, he made a deal with the Sheriff’s office: by tying the matter to his other little legal problem, he gave up nothing and the Sheriff gave up everything. Quite the deal.

Under the deal reached last month with prosecutors, Limbaugh was not to be arrested for any infraction for 18 months in exchange for authorities deferring a charge of “doctor shopping.” Prosecutors had alleged the conservative talk-show host illegally deceived multiple physicians to receive overlapping painkiller prescriptions.

Something like this becomes a story when the person is a celebrity, or when ther person . . . well,  just read the rest:

Before his own problems became public, Limbaugh had decried drug use and abuse and mocked President Clinton for saying he had not inhaled when he tried marijuana . . .

“Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. … And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995. . well,  just read the rest.

When Bruce speaks, a lotta people listen

Haven’t been paying much attention in recent years to popular music. I do notice when something happens (RIP Clarence et al) but don’t generally pay a lot of attention when soemthing new is published.

Here’s what The Guardian has to say about Bruce Springstein’s new album, Wrecking Ball.

Indeed, [the album] is as angry a cry from the belly of a wounded America as has been heard since the dustbowl and Woody Guthrie, a thundering blow of New Jersey pig iron down on the heads of Wall Street and all who have sold his country down the swanny. Springsteen has gone to the great American canon for ammunition, borrowing from folk, civil war anthems, Irish rebel songs and gospel. The result is a howl of pain and disbelief as visceral as anything he has ever produced, that segues into a search for redemption: “Hold tight to your anger/ And don’t fall to your fears … Bring on your wrecking ball.”

Springsteen plunges into darker, richer musical landscapes in a sequence of breath-taking protest songs – Easy Money, Shackled and Drawn, Jack of All Trades, the scarily bellicose Death to My Hometown and This Depression with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine – before the album turns on Wrecking Ball in search of some spiritual path out of the mess the US is in.

I may have to borrow a dime for this one. Here’s a cut.

Rosanne Cash – 500 Miles

POSTED BY ORHAN

In South Carolina, you get arrested. On Wall Street, you get adulation.

Different strokes, different folks.

A woman in South Carolina was arrested for public obscenity for  having these on her car. It’s still in Court.

On Wall Street it’s different dontchaknow. Behold the industry icon, the brass balls that keep the world spinning and the testosterone flowing in lower Manhattan. This manifestation of the ‘Bull Market Deity’ lives and snorts outside the NY Stock Exchange, where he is also a popular tourist attraction. Whatever you do, do not tell the cops!

Can’t be too careful.

Howard Keel starred in the movie

We are such wusses.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A western Pennsylvania school district has decided not to stage a Tony Award-winning musical about a Muslim street poet after members of the community complained about the play on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The Tribune Democrat of Johnstown reports Richland School District had planned to stage “Kismet” in February but Superintendent Thomas Fleming says it was scrapped to avoid controversy.

Fleming tells the newspaper that sensitivity is understandable in part because one of the hijacked planes crashed in nearby Shanksville.

Music director Scott Miller tells The Tribune-Democrat the district last performed “Kismet” in 1983.

Miller says the play has no inappropriate content but he and other members of the performing arts committee decided to switch to “Oklahoma!” after hearing complaints.

“Kismet” won the Tony for best musical in 1954.

This is just wrong

The guy on the left is claiming to be Bill Murray, but he can’t be – I know Bill Murray, and Bill Murray is the guy on the right!

Federal judge (temporarilly) dashes plan to screw Florida voters yet again

Very good news for Floridians. Two Florida Congress critters had challenged a voter approved redistricting plan and it just got shot down by a federal judge. (for now anyway)

MIAMI — A federal judge today upheld Florida’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that aims to ban gerrymandering in the drawing of congressional districts.

But two Florida members of Congress who challenged the “Fair Districts” amendment said they are prepared to appeal the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court . . .

Although the Florida legislature ultimately draws the congressional boundaries under the new law, the plaintiffs argued that the voter-imposed rules dilute the legislature’s authority.

Ungaro’s ruling deals with Amendment 6, approved by 62.9 percent of voters in November, which sets guidelines for congressional redistricting. A companion amendment dealing with state House and Senate redistricting passed with 62.6 percent support and has not been challenged.

The legislature must draw new districts in time for the 2012 elections to reflect 2010 census data. The process in Florida and other states has historically been dominated by partisanship and political considerations. But Amendment 6 states that districts cannot be drawn to favor incumbents or political parties and must be compact and adhere to existing city, county and geographical boundaries “where feasible.”

Sum sum sum sum summertime . . .

Off to see it! Friends are often appalled at my cinematic choices. So be it; I love sci-fi, action and anything remotely apocalyptic. Also superheros.

Reggie does Obama

There were a few stories around last week about the Obama impersonator at an RNC event who was pulled off stage for apparently making racist jokes. I read a few of the jokes and didnt find them at all racist and now I know why the disconnect: the guy was actually pulled offstage when he started to talk about Michelle Bachmann.

Anyway, Bill Mahar had him on. He’s good. And he’s funny.

RIP, Clarence Clemmons

The ‘big man’ in the E-Street Band whose sax was such an important part of  Springstein’s sound was only 69. He died tonight.

Thanks for the memories big guy.

I love Queen and I am in awe of this kid

Look what he did:

 

Planetary jam: Google honors Les Paul

In the car yesterday I half heard a story on NPR that mentioned Les Paul, the father of the electric guitar and multi-track recording. Then Bill brought this to my attention this morning.

Google’s logo yesterday was actually an interactive electric guitar – you can still go to Google and try your hand at playing it. Have fun – I did.

Given that, today’s oldie has to be Les Paul and Mary Ford. This is from 1953 and the guy introducing them is Robert Trout, later one of CBS News’ early anchors. Trout was one of “Murrow’s Boys”, the band of WWII radio reporters gathered after the war by Edward R. Murrow to work at CBS.

I’m off to see X-Men – Ta-Nehisi Coates already saw it

Ta-Nehisis Coates is a relatively new columnist at The New York Times. I read him today – for the first time – because his column invoked X-Men: First Class, a movie I am about to go see. (I love this stuff.)

Just want to say he’s a gorgeous writer. What a thrill these days to find such as he. I look forward to more.

Take that, Newsweek

POSTED BY ORHAN

The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan responded to a Newsweek article calling GR one of America’s “dying cities” with conceivably one of the greatest production numbers ever, performed in one uninterrupted shot by what appears to be the whole city (actually only 5000 humans). For me it eerily segues from Moe’s Gettysburg Address post earlier today–death, rebirth, the triumph of the human spirit–plus it makes me want to go there:

Another actor stays in TV character

I really like Alec Baldwin, even in commercials – like this one. (Bonus - Jon Krasinski!)

Netroots Nation, the liberal media and who’s making the money buddy?

Markos Moulitsas

The Netroots Nation convention (referenced below) was so named by readers of Markos Moulitsas‘ blog, Daily Kos, probably the most influential liberal site in the blogsphere. It’s routinely demonized by the right who have dubbed it – and by extension Markos – The Great Orange Satan (the logo color is orange). Kos has gone from a a lone blogger  – immigrant, veteran, lawyer, author, father, political activist -whose very first sentence in his first blog post (in ’04 I think) was “I am a liberal”, to a community of tens of thousands of activists,  hundred and hundreds of writers and advertising rates that would make The New York Times blush.

I’ve written often – here, and here, and here - about the utter failure of the liberal punditocracy and elected Democrats to make the point that liberal media dominates because it’s what people want and support with their dollars.

A blog is media. Daily Kos is a blog. Daily Kos is liberal and Daily Kos is making money. Lots of money.

It’s more successful than its conservative rivals (except perhaps  The Druge Report which even after a decade plus is still only a primitive blog acting as a news aggregator with a point of view). In any free market the major players are the ones that rake in the bucks because people value the product and pay for it. The media may be liberal, but what’s almost never mentioned is that it’s also   what America reads and watches. And pays for.

Let’s look at movies and compare the box office success of  the  anti-liberal movie Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with Sicko, Michael Moore’s liberal documentary. Both of these were in limited release.

Atlas Shrugged:  Here’s a report from the Hollywood Reporter:

The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff.

[Producer] Aglialoro said he had to scale down his ambition for the film to be in 1,000 theaters this weekend, so it will likely be closer to 400. During its opening weekend, the movie took in $5,640 per screen but then only $1,890 in its second. Through Wednesday, the film had grossed $3.3 million since opening April 15.

That paper also covered Sicko when it was released in ’07. here

Lionsgate far outpaced the competition this summer, but its biggest hit was the Weinstein Co. co-release “Sicko.” Michael Moore’s harsh and humorous health-care expose took in $24.1 million. Currently neck and neck with “An Inconvenient Truth,” it will pass that film to become the third-highest-grossing nonmusical documentary of all time this weekend, though its purse doesn’t begin to compare with the top-ranking docu, Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” ($119.2 million.)

Liberal media has more reach. Because people pay for it. From an earlier post, I’ll republish this, because it can’t be posted often enough.

FROM Whatever Works in FEBRUARY of 2010 :

That most frequent target of conservative media, The New York Times, reported a circulation (March 2009) of 1,039,031 copies on weekdays and 1,451,233 copies on Sundays. And the venerable Wall Street Journal has equivalent if not higher weekday numbers. But since the Times is perceived to be ‘liberal’ throughout and the Journal is perceived to be conservative only in its editorial pages, they’re not politically opposite. The Journal is a hybrid. So a comparison would not be useful.)

NEWSPAPERS
The Washington Post – A publicly traded company
Daily audience 1,599,900

The Washington Times - A privately held company owned by the Rev. Sun Young Moon
Daily audience 83,511

MAGAZINES
The Weekly Standard - a privately held company
Can’t find circulation numbers, even at their own website, so to keep it fair(ish)
National Review - a privately held company
Weekly circulation 183,000

Time Magazine – A publicly traded company
Weekly circulation 3,400,000

I draw the reader’s attention to which of these publications thrive in the free market and which are rich men’s hobbies.

Muslims and atheists and the father of our country

A few years ago I read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. It was a thrilling read, a page turner, genuinely exciting – I credited the author with that; now I know it was because Hamilton was exciting. Because I am now reading Chernow’s biography of, ahem, George Washington.

The young George Washington

Chernow’s account confirms what we’ve always known about George – he was no Alexander Hamilton. Washington was a singularly un-exciting person, as methodical in his days as a well wound clock. I’ve only gotten to 1860 1760 but I will stay with it – in the hope that things pick up around 1776.

Boring yes, but very principled – I doubt he’d make it in today’s political and media climate. I just came across this passage which would doom him were he to reappear amongst us for another shot at the top job.

 ” . . . the exemplary nature of Washington’s religious tolerance. He shuddered at the notion of exploiting religion for partisan purposes or showing favoritism for any religious denomination. . . . When he needed to hire a carpenter and a bricklayer for Mount Vernon, he stated that ‘if they are good workmen, they may be Mohamatens, Jews or Christians . . . even atheists.

Let’s hear it for the blonds

On MSNBC right now, a pretty white female anchor with really long wavy blond hair is talking to another pretty white lady with long straight blond hair about another white lady with regular blond hair who is missing.

A white blond girl is missing! She’s pretty so we must put it on the teevee.