Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 In Review

2009 was a year of ups and downs for yours truly. While I would like to say it was a great year, it wasn't, but it wasn't a horrible one either. It was simply a year, and now here is a summary.


We got a dog. He is a miniature schnauzer named Basil and is very cute. I didn't really want a dog or even like dogs before this, but now I love the dog. I'm a huge flip-flopper apparently.

I was in a production of Pirates of Penzance with the wife at the Off Broadway Theatre. It was great to get back on the stage after a few years away. There really is nothing like performing live.

I had some great moments with friends and family. Aw, cute.

I helped coach the Rowland Hall high school basketball team to their best finish at state since moving to the 2A classification. Well done, boys.

The new Star Trek movie came out and was really cool.

I started a really kick ass blog.

I celebrated three years of marriage to my awesome wife, Mary Anne with a fun trip to Park City.


I was laid off from my job after four years. It was sad to leave, but I am starting to see it as more of a positive than a negative. Lesson for the kids, you gotta play the hand you're dealt.

A few distant relatives passed away. Farewell.

I scraped the roof of my mouth on some toast. Dammit!

That's really it, I don't want to sound like a whiner.









Catch you all on the flip side in 2010. Let's make it a good one.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie of the Week

This Merry Week,


Starring- Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Peter Billingsley

There is a reason that this movie is played for 24 hours on Christmas- it is awesome. This small budget effort, based on the short stories of Jean Shepherd, has become an American institution since it was made in 1983. The story focuses on Ralphie Parker, a boy who wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, and who will stop at nothing to get one- even though everyone says that "He'll shoot his eye out." Even though this is the central thrust of the film, the real charm comes from the portrayal of the life of a midwestern family during the depression. It is a nice encapsulation of a simpler time when kids listened to the radio for fun, milk was the operative beverage and dads were referred to as "the old man."

This movie is rife with memorable scenes and lines that I find myself quoting as soon as the calendar turns to December. The best thing about A Christmas Story is that everyone in the family can enjoy it and relate to it. We can all remember a Christmas when we were young when there was one toy that we wanted more than anything, just like Ralphie's blue steel beauty, and how sweet it was when we woke up to find it under the tree. Ralphie is the every-kid, and even if we never heard Little Orphan Annie or watched our friend stick his tongue to a frozen lamppost, we had similar experiences. I wonder what people did before this movie came out, and then I thank the filmmakers for getting this film in the can the year I was born.

Things to watch for-

Flick (He became a porn star)
The Bumpis Hounds
The Old Man's major award
This thing which tells time
Chinese Turkey

"Oh, Fudge."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Saddest Christmas Song Ever

Everyone is all about that song 'The Christmas Shoes' this year, but before that craptacular band New Song raped our ears, there was a sadder, more pointless song. The song of which I speak is 'The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot' by Nat King Cole. I really like Nat King Cole, but I'm sorry, this song is so awful that I question his intelligence. Who thought that a song about a boy who gets no presents for Christmas and is sad would put people in a good holiday mood? At least 'The Christmas Shoes' has a moral to it, albeit a stupid, convoluted moral, but there is no moral to 'The Little Boy Who Santa Claus Forgot.'

Here are the lyrics, so you can see what I mean.

He's the little boy who Santa Claus forgot,
and goodness knows he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa for some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart when Santa didn't come

In the street he envies all those lucky boys
Then wanders home to play with last year's broken toys
I'm so sorry for that laddie
He hasn't got a daddy
He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot

Wow, that makes me feel so good about Christmas, how about you? WTF? The song might have been good if the boy were a little turd who was greedy and rude to his parents and acted like a dick to his friends, and Santa not coming taught him a lesson, but no, this little boy is a nice kid who only wanted some soldiers and a drum. A drum! Come on, Santa! It's not like he was asking for something outrageous like Beatles Rock Band- he just wanted a drum. Oh, and by the way, this kid doesn't have a dad! Yeah, I forgot that Santa has a thing against kids without dads. Maybe this kid should get together with the kid from Christmas Shoes and form a therapy group called Shitty Christmas. I like to be happy at Christmas, but thanks to this song I'm now so jaded that I hope I choke on some fruitcake.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Bests

Here is a list of some things that I think are the best in their particular category.

Best Muppet Movie- The Great Muppet Caper

Best Brand of Toothpaste- Crest

Best Hard Rock Band- AC/DC

Best Utah Ski Resort- Solitude

Best Batman- Christian Bale/Adam West

Best Monty Python Movie- Life of Brian

Best Beatle- George

Best Random Kitchen Gadget- Potato Ricer

Best Jolly Rancher Flavor- Peach

Best Candy Bar- Snickers

Best Star Trek Captain- Kirk

Best Season of Arrested Development- Season 2

Best Blog- Do I need to ask?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Movie of the Week

This Jolly Week,


Starring- Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll

Most, including me, say that the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol is the best, but this 1938 edition is still quite good. While it is not as faithful to the original Dickens book, and has a less scary, family friendly feel to it, there is a certain charm that makes me smile when I watch it every Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge is played by veteran actor, Reginald Owen who portrays the protagonist as irritated and easily won over by the spirits sent to change him. I think this film comes from a more optimistic, hopeful viewpoint that shows good to be always superior to anger and bitterness. Some other adaptations of this story make Scrooge almost too unsympathetic, but here Owen forces you to root for Scrooge to become a happy-go-lucky guy.

The colorized version of this film is cheesy and if you can find it in black and white I encourage that. Equally cheesy, but also charming is the portrayal of the Cratchit family. Bob is clearly too well-fed to be that poor, the kids are a little too taken with the goose they have for Christmas dinner, and Tiny Tim is very healthy looking and kind of a perv. I laugh sometimes at some of the elements of this movie, but at its core is the great message of retribution and the embrace of Christmas. I hope that this movie brings you as much joy and laughter as it does to me every single Christmas season.

Things to Watch for-

Having a slide
Bob's Snowball lesson
June Lockhart (the mom from Lassie) as a Cratchit daughter
A Very Jolly Ghost of Christmas Present
Scrooge biting his coins

"I'd like to stroke it."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Listen Up, Phonies!

The Tiger Woods controversy has made me think about how people choose to present themselves to the world, and how much of what we see is actually the truth. I am very much from the school of what you see is what you get, and that is how I live my life. It hurts me when you think you know someone, how they think, what they do, who they spend their time with, what their values are, and then something comes out that completely turns your perception upside down. I felt that way when this mess came out about Tiger, I have felt that way when I have discovered other hidden transgressions about people I know, and I will always feel that way.

Nobody is perfect, and I cannot stand phonies who think that they can fake their way through life pretending that they are perfect. I am constantly amazed when I see fakes and phonies because they will always end up being exposed for who they really are. Tiger's situation is a great example of how a phony can be exposed to the light of the truth. I don't in any way condone Tiger's actions, but his biggest crime was being disingenuous about who he really was, not the acts themselves. If you like lots of sex with random whores, so be it, but just say "I enjoy lots of sex with random whores." I'm sure Elin would have liked to hear that before she married what she thought was a upstanding family man. Jimmy Carter caught a lot of flack when he was president for admitting that he had "lusted in [his] heart." Sure, this is somewhat disturbing, but I admire Mr. Carter's honesty. Speaking out can sometimes heal the wounds inflicted by the phony, but the bloom is already off of the rose and the image can never be rebuilt. To all the fakes out there, make sure that if you create a false persona, you keep your real persona out of trouble because as Tiger can tell you, it sucks to be exposed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Bond Chronicles Part III

James Bond has had 22 cinematic adventures, and I have a deep appreciation for them, but there would no films without the books written by Ian Fleming. Fleming's first novel, Casino Royale forever changed the spy genre when it was published in 1953, and introduced the world to agent 007. A series of books followed, making James Bond a legitimate literary phenomenon, especially when President Kennedy put From Russia With Love on a list of his favorite books. I had not read any of the books until many years into my Bond obsession, but can now say I have read most of them. I can say without a doubt that the books are very special, and depict a very flawed main character that is only glimpsed in some of the movies. For a deeper understanding of the man, read the books and feel the charm of Fleming's writing take you into a world of intrigue and glamour. The list that follows reviews my favorite three Bond books.

1. From Russia With Love

Just like the film version, this is the best of the series. President Kennedy was right to put this book on his list of favorites because it has it all- great locations, mysterious girls, thrilling action and sinister villains. The villains in this book are the best Fleming ever created- ruthless SMERSH mastermind Colonel Rosa Klebb and her machine-like killer henchman 'Red' Grant. These two set in motion a great Cold War era plot to get even with 007 for his previous work against the Soviet spy organization. I don't want to spoil the story, but Bond is at his best as he matches wits with his deadly enemies against the fabulous backdrop of Istanbul and the Orient Express. It is also different enough from the film that you will have some nice surprises in store.

2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service

It's no wonder that the two best books made for great Bond films, and this is true for OHMSS. Just like the 1969 film, this story follows 007 as he tries to track down Blofeld at his hideout in the Swiss Alps. This novel has some great scenes, and Fleming does a fabulous job describing the action, especially the epic ski chase that sees Bond narrowly evading SPECTRE. Also of note in this book are Bond's allies. M plays a critical role, as does avuncular crime lord Marc Ange Draco who ends up as Bond's father in law. Yes, Bond gets married in this one, but be prepared for a shocking finale. Fleming does his best work at the end when Bond's marriage meets an untimely end. The cliffhanger makes you eager to pick up the next book, You Only Live Twice, immediately.

3. Live and Let Die

Of the three books on this list, Live and Let Die is the most different from its cinematic counterpart. Unlike the 1973 film starring Roger Moore, the book is much darker and more violent, with key scenes that were later adapted for other Bond films. I like the gritty nature of this Bond adventure, and the mysterious Voodoo shadow that is cast over it. The villain this time is the gigantic Hatian Mr. Big who works as an operative for the Russians. Bond is sent to uncover a smuggling operation, but soon becomes trapped in a dangerous game with Mr. Big and his confederates. Try not to be put off by the somewhat racist depiction of the black characters in the novel, and remember that it was written in 1954. Despite the somewhat antiquated view of black culture, this book is rife with great scenes- the maiming of Felix Leiter, Solitaire's test and the keel hauling torture. Enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Movie of the Week

For the Christmas/Holiday season I will be devoting my movie of the week posts to Christmas movies. This week,


Starring- Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara

This movie flat out rules. I remember seeing it in the theatre as an 8 year old for my friend's birthday. It was all I could do not to entice burglars into the house while my mom was gone to assault them with homemade booby traps. Everyone wanted to be Kevin McAllister, and rightly so. I am assuming most of you have seen this movie and are well acquainted with it, so I will not bore you with a synopsis or review. Instead I will present a conjecture of what happened to the main characters in the last 19 years.

The 'Polka King of the Midwest' and his band the Kenosha Kickers were inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame, but were unable to attend because they were on their 'Polka Polka Polka' Tour of Europe.

They spent 6 to 10 years in prison as the bitches of Dr. Hate, but finally were set free after Dr. Hate was shanked during movie night. Once they paid their debt to society, Harry opened a Pawn Shop in Hackinsack, NJ and Marv starred in and directed a semi-autobiographical low budget adult film called 'Wett Bandit.'

Narrowly avoided having all their children taken away by child protective services after leaving Kevin behind twice. Have since over-compensated by adopting three Cambodian babies who are never out of their sight and sleep in the same bed with them. Those children are now in foster homes.

Buzz is living in Chicago with his boyfriend Mitch Murphy (the kid across the street). They own and operate a Pet Store that specializes in tarantulas.

He is still a total cheapskate, and as was arrested for stealing crystal wine glasses from a hotel room in Ft. Lauderdale.

He is a therapist who works exclusively with children who are bed wetters. He is the author of the best selling book "Outer Dampness, Inner Pain."

After many years of therapy, he went back to New York and opened up a Pizza joint in Queens that serves only Cheese Pizzas called Old Man Marley's.

Things to Watch for-

John Candy as The Polka King of the Midwest
A French Jimmy Stewart
Acey, Snakes and Johnny
Buzz's Girlfriend- Woof!

"Keep the change, ya filthy animal."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things I Think- Holiday Edition

These are a few musings I have about the Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Voodoo Day season. This time of year makes me think about a lot of things, and because I am filled with a generous spirit in this time of giving, I will share them with you.

I used to think that a fake Christmas tree was unacceptable, but now I think that they are awesome. It is so much easier to put up and deal with, I love it. A friend thought our tree was real too, which shows how far the fake tree industry has come in their ability to duplicate pine needles, etc.

I think that everyone needs to learn a bit about the real history behind the holidays this time of year brings us. Jesus wasn't born in December, many of the traditions we engage in are not Christian, they are Pagan, and Kwanzaa was created by a college professor.

I think Christmas trees that have a variety of ornaments are the most fun and interesting.

I think I would buy a really expensive Christmas village if I had a lot of extra money. I think I would get the Dickensian one- it has little Scrooge and Marley figures.

I think it is important to do something for someone else that might not have as much as you. I also think that it doesn't need to be Christmas to do said thing.

I think that doing some of the things you did as a kid helps make this time of year still seem magical. For example, I like to look through some of the books that I loved to read as kid at Christmas.

I think Santa Claus would be pissed if he knew the Discovery Channel and National Geographic were trying to uncover his lair. Leave the man alone, all he wants to do is bring toys to all of us.

I think Kay Jewelers and Zales need to seriously rethink their holiday ad campaigns.

I think alcohol is necessary to really enjoy most family parties.

I think that people who have to go to three or four places on Christmas deserve a medal. I have been one of them. It ain't easy.

I think that the 1951 version of 'A Christmas Carol' starring Alistair Sim is the definitive one.

I think I'll go have some sort of nog. Egg?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movie of the Week

This week,

STAR TREK (2009)

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Starring- Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy

In this reboot/retcon of the original crew's adventures, we see new actors attempt to fill the shoes of their famous counterparts. As a lifelong Trekker, I was very skeptical about the absence of Shatner and the other original crew members in the key roles, but J.J Abrams and his people put together a great cast that honored and expanded on the beloved characters. This film was not perfect, but it did have enough good parts and performances to make you eager for the planned sequels.

The film is really the story of how the original crew came together to their familiar positions on the Enterprise. Abrams uses time travel to great effect to craft his story without having to remain fiercely loyal to Star Trek canon. This technique frees the franchise from the constraints of having to match up with the original T.V. shows and films. In addition to the crew's formation, Star Trek tells the story of a rogue Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) who to sets out to get revenge on Spock from the original timeline, played by Leonard Nimoy. The two stories merge bringing Nero into conflict with Kirk, Young Spock and the rest of the crew. With old Spock's help, they defeat Nero's destructive plans and begin a new five year mission together.

Some moments of the film are very reminiscent of the classic films and episodes- especially Karl Urban's turn as 'Bones,' certain lines of dialogue, Sulu's fencing, Chekov's mispronunciation of w's and v's and Chris Pine's chemistry with Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock respectively. There were other elements that were new, but very welcome including- Bruce Greenwood as the avuncular role model Captain Pike, a re-vamped Enterprise, a decent score by Abrams regular Michael Giacchino and some good old school special effects. Finally, certain things could have been scaled back or eliminated like- the Spock/Uhura love story, the scads upon scads of lens flares and Eric Bana's scenery chewing villainy (leave that kind of acting to Ricardo Montalban).

All in all this film puts Star Trek on the right course for the next decade. I look forward to adventures with the crew as they continue to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Things to watch for-

A toothy Winona Rider as Spock's mom
The tribble
The cool new transporter effect
Tyler Perry as an Admiral (Medea Goes to Starfleet)

"I like this ship. It's exciting."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving approaches, and as such I feel the need to engage in what many see as the point of the holiday. No, I don't mean the over-consumption of food around a table of hostility with drunken relatives, I mean the giving of thanks. Here now are some of the things I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful for the end of Jon and Kate Plus 8.

I am thankful for my dog Basil and his cuteness. I am not thankful for his anal gland butt juice, however.

I am thankful for Obama's gift of fourteen more weeks of unemployment benefits. I need to finish that magic eye puzzle, and now I can!

I am thankful for the new Star Trek movie, it is a solid reboot.

I am thankful for our super powerful vacuum. It could suck the bolts out of a submarine's hull.

I am thankful for all my family and friends.

I am also thankful for cliched thankfulnesses.

I am thankful for knowing that the mechanic that I go to doesn't try to screw me.

I am thankful for Cialis, and the two bathtubs they threw in with my prescription.

I am thankful for my witty blog and my two regular readers. You guys rule.

Thanks for reading, and have a great Turkey Day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

People I Can Do With

That last post was kind of negative and bitter, so I will now offer a more positive response to it. Here now is a list of people that I like, love and think are awesome.

My wife, Mary Anne. She is ridiculously good at lots of things, very smart, funny, sweet and talented.

Patton Oswalt. He is the best stand-up working today.

Old people who are really good at using computers, like my grandma.

Teachers. They really are heroes and make a huge difference in many people's lives. I was one, I know.

Women. All women. They put up with stuff that men will never know or have to deal with. If I had to have a period every month I would probably think I was going to bleed to death. Childbirth too, that shit is insane. Ladies, I salute you.

Paris Hilton's murderer.

People who have disabilities or illnesses that maintain a positive attitude despite their condition. I whine about a hangnail or a canker sore, so I truly find you to be great examples to all the giant wimps like me.

Guys and gals who still sport mullets. I love to laugh at your business in the front, party in the back hair.

Janitors. Thanks for mopping up my mess and scrubbing my toilets.

The guy who invents a time machine, goes back and kills George Lucas in 1995 before he can make the Star Wars prequels and the fourth Indiana Jones.

Deron Williams.

That's all, but with some luck, or time machine building skills you could make the next version of the list.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

People I Can Do Without

Here is a list of some people that I would be happy to never see or hear from again.

Paris Hilton

Guys who wear a suit jacket or blazer over a wildly designed t-shirt and tight jeans. It stopped being a good look a long time ago.

Old retired people who go to the grocery store in droves on the weekend. You're retired, you can go any day of the week! Leave the weekends for people who work (not me).

Twilight fans. Especially ones who think Robert Pattinson is good looking- HE LOOKS UNWELL!

Parents who buy booze for and drink with their teenage kids. You are losers, stop trying to recapture your youth and be your kids' friend.

People who think they eat healthy and tell you what to eat, even though they have it all wrong. An all tomato diet isn't eating well.

Smug USC fans.

Fans of Notre Dame football, Michigan Football, and the New York Yankees who think it is their birthright to have their teams be winners every year. Guess what, there is much more parity in sports now and other teams got better. Stop whining and realize it isn't 1960 anymore.

Utah drivers who don't know how to use a four way stop.

That fat kid from 2 and a Half Men.

Guys who don't wash their hands after they pee. You're costing the rest of us creditability.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

Goodfellas is in my top five films of all time. This film should have won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director in 1990, saving us from The Departed in 2008 and the smugness of Kevin Costner after he won both awards for Dances with Wolves. I think this is Scorcese's finest film, and yes, I have seen The King of Comedy. He uses narration and montage to great effect, and this film did it before it became a Scorcese cliche. It is a unique look at the life of real-life mobster Henry Hill (Liotta) and his cadre of "wiseguy" friends. Unlike other mafia movies, this one really takes you inside and makes you understand the inner-workings of the wiseguy lifestyle.

It begins with a young Henry Hill aspiring to work with the wiseguys in his neighborhood, and then meeting the men who will become the major players in his life. Among those men are Jimmy Conway (DeNiro) and Tommy DeVito (Pesci). These three embark on a very flamboyant, active life of crime that involves stealing, drug dealing and murder. The thing about it is, most of the time it looks like so much fun that you want to join. Unfortunately, the fun is stuck between stays in jail, drug paranoia and threats of snitches ratting you out. Hill eventually has to rat out his friends in order to save his own life- thus ending his dream life as a gangster.

Every scene in Goodfellas sparkles with realism and wit, and paints a very engaging picture of the lives of his characters. Liotta's work in anchoring the film is very good, and he does a nice job of walking the somewhat narrow tightrope of family man and wiseguy. DeNiro is also great, but the real kudos go to Oscar winner, Joe Pesci. Pesci's portrayal of Tommy is funny, tough and terrifying all at once. It is hard to know whether he will make you laugh, or make you dead. Sometimes he does both with terrific results. Goodfellas will take you on a first class trip to mobtown- a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.

Things to Watch for-

The amazing soundtrack
Billy Batts and the shinebox
The longest steadycam shot ever
Morrie's Wigs
Martin Scorcese's Mom as Tommy's Mom
A Cutty and Water

"The paw?" "The hoof."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cop Out

Here is a cop out blog entry. I have not posted in a little while, and I am sorry to the two of you that actually read this. I don't really have time for a real blog right now, so here are some facts I know and unrelated photos.

James Brolin was almost James Bond.

Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert got their start on the short-lived, but hilarious Dana Carvey Show.

Hitler's favorite movies were Snow White and King Kong.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

You can help yourself sneeze by staring into a bright light.

My dog, Basil is adorable in a sweater.

Here now, are the unrelated photos.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bond Chronicles Part II

Today's 007-centric post will focus on the six actors who have donned the tuxedo to portray James Bond. It is difficult for me to pick a favorite Bond because in my study of the films I can appreciate something about what each actor brought to the role. I know some people are die-hard Connery people, or Roger Moore followers, but after you read this maybe you can re-think your opinions on this group of distinguished actors.

SEAN CONNERY (1962-1967,1971) 6 Films

Connery is the standard by which all Bonds who follow will be measured. Some measure up better than others, but one thing is certain- Connery was a great James Bond and he built the character into a screen icon. He was discovered for the role by Dana Broccoli (Producer Cubby Broccoli's wife) in Darby O'Gill and the Little People and most everyone agreed he would be a good choice. Connery was not as suave as his on-screen counterpart and needed some polishing by Director Terence Young. The results were terrific as he debuted in Dr. No in 1962. Connery went on to make 5 more films, the best of which are From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. Following the release of You Only Live Twice, he retired from the role, saying that he was tired of all the attention and time it took to make a Bond film. He would return, however, in 1971's Diamonds are Forever for one film only. It was nice to see the man back in action, even when it was clear it would be his last official Bond film. I love Connery's work, and I think the best thing he brought to the role of 007 was the balance of wit and cruelty.

GEORGE LAZENBY (1969) 1 Film

The somehwat unknown Bond, George Lazenby had the unenviable task of filling Sean Connery's shoulder holster following his departure in 1967. Lazenby, an Australian, had been a model and T.V. actor, and won the role over thousands of other hopefuls by emulating Sean Connery. The one film in which Lazenby starred is one of the best of the series. On Her Majesty's Secret Service boasts a terrific cast, strong story and great action on the slopes of Switzerland. While not a great actor, Lazenby has some fine moments in the film that make you wonder what kind of Bond he would have blossomed into had he stuck around. Stardom and ego proved to be his downfall, and his constant on-set tantrums soured the producers. I really wish he could have had another film or two because his work in OHMSS, especially in the action and fight scenes, was decent. I do not think it is fair to judge him too harshly because following Sean Connery would be tough for anyone.

ROGER MOORE (1973-1985) 7 Films

In lieu of hiring another unknown to replace Connery, the producers asked well known T.V. actor Roger Moore to play 007 in 1973. Moore, a veteran of spy shows, The Saint and The Pursuaders, was a very solid choice to become Bond, and he showed confidence stepping into the role. While Connery had been a Bond of the 1960's, Moore would be a Bond of the 1970's. Moore's portrayal of Bond was more light and comedic than his predecessors, and it fit his personality well. Some Bond purists say that this interpretation of 007 was not in keeping with Fleming's original creation, but I think it worked for the time in which the films were made. Roger Moore made 7 films as 007, and the quality of his work ranged from excellent and thrilling (For Your Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved Me) to campy and stupid (Moonraker). I really enjoy what Roger Moore brought to the Bond series, and even though you may not love him, it can at least be said he did it his way and he did not copy Sean Connery.

TIMOTHY DALTON (1987-1989) 2 Films

With Moore's departure in 1985, the producers wanted to go back to a more hard-edged Bond that was truer to the character in the books. When Pierce Brosnan, who was tapped for the role, became unavailable, the part of Bond went to Welsh actor Timothy Dalton. Dalton had auditioned for Bond before, but had felt too young for the part at the time, but now he was ready. In his two films as 007, Dalton shows a vulnerable and harder side- making Bond like a bomb who could go off anytime. Dalton benefitted from what I feel are two of the series' finest scripts, and he carved out a nice niche in my heart with his work. For whatever reason, fans did not embrace him the way they had Moore and Connery, and so his tenure as 007 was short-lived. Also, legal trouble at the studio prevented a film from being made after 1989's Licence to Kill, and so by the time the wrangling was over, it was 1994, and Dalton was no longer interested in playing James Bond. I give kudos to Dalton for his work in grounding Bond in the real world and for the fact that he did many of his own stunts which was a welcome sight after Roger Moore's turn as 007.

PIERCE BROSNAN (1995-2002) 4 Films

It was no surprise in 1995 that Pierce Brosnan was to be the next James Bond. Having lost the role in 1987, Brosnan was eager to take on the role as the world's most famous spy. Brosnan's work was very much a fusion of the Dalton and Moore portrayals. He was good at the witty one liners, as well as the brutality and vulnerability that make Bond dangerous. His best film was his first, Goldeneye. Following his fabulous debut, the stories he was given got more fantastic and over-the-top with each film, so that by his swan song, Die Another Day, Bond had gotten too campy. I credit Brosnan for reinvigorating the franchise, and making Bond a viable character for a new generation. I will never forget seeing Goldeneye in the theatre as a kid, and realizing that I would grow up with Pierce Brosnan as my Bond.

DANIEL CRAIG (2006-Present) 2 Films

I have to admit, like many, I was skeptical when the producers cut Pierce Brosnan loose after Die Another Day, but I was wrong. Daniel Craig became the sixth actor to play 007 amid terrible press and reviews that slammed him as a bad choice and "James Bland." Despite this media onslaught, he turned in what many call the best performance the series had yet seen. I wouldn't necessarily go that far, but Craig's gritty, realistic turn in Casino Royale convinced me that Bond was in good hands. Even though Connery, Dalton and Brosnan showed flashes, Craig's work as 007 is the closest to the original Fleming creation. Following, Casino Royale, Craig again did fine work in Quantum of Solace. I do hope that in the next few films we see a return to some of the humorous aspects of the character, but there is little doubt that Craig is here to stay as James Bond.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Bond Chronicles

I love James Bond. If I could be someone else, I would be James Bond. With that said, I am an authority on Mr. Bond- the movies, the books, the characters, the style, etc. This time of year is usually when a new Bond film comes out, but this year there isn't one. We will have to wait until November of 2011 for the follow up to last year's Quantum of Solace. So, in the absence of a new film, I will try to satisfy my Bond addiction with a series of blogs about 007. Here now is the first installment.

There have been 22 "official" James Bond films made, starting with 1962's Dr. No. I say "official" because there was the parody, Casino Royale made in 1967 starring David Niven and Peter Sellers, as well as the rival Bond film, Never Say Never Again, made in 1983 with Sean Connery. I am a purist, and even though these films have some nice moments, they don't count. With that preface, I now rank the 22 films in the official series from 1 to 22. One being the best, 22 the worst. Get it? I hope so.

1. From Russia With Love (1963) Sean Connery
2. Goldfinger (1964) Sean Connery
3. For Your Eyes Only (1981) Roger Moore
4. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Roger Moore
5. Dr. No (1962) Sean Connery
6. Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig
7. Thunderball (1965) Sean Connery
8. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) George Lazenby
9. Goldeneye (1995) Pierce Brosnan
10. Octopussy (1983) Roger Moore
11. Licence to Kill (1989) Timothy Dalton
12. The Living Daylights (1987) Timothy Dalton
13. Quantum of Solace (2008) Daniel Craig
14. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) Roger Moore
15. The World is not Enough (1999) Pierce Brosnan
16. Live and Let Die (1973) Roger Moore
17. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Pierce Brosnan
18. A View to a Kill (1985) Roger Moore
19. Diamonds are Forever (1971) Sean Connery
20. You Only Live Twice (1965) Sean Connery
21. Die Another Day (2002) Pierce Brosnan
22. Moonraker (1979) Roger Moore

There you have it, the definitive list. Try to dispute me, just try.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things I Think

I think you'll like what I have to say today.

I think that people need to wake up and see that the Olive Garden is a huge rip off. The food there is not that good, and it is actually kind of expensive. When I go to a chain I expect decent food that is relatively cheap. I don't want to spend $30 for two meals. I can spend less and get a way better meal at many, many non-cheesy, non-chain restaurants. Have you tried the breadsticks, though? Fabulous.

I think McDonald's is probably evil, but the McMuffin is like ambrosia.

I think golf is more fun to watch on T.V. than baseball.

I think it's okay to tip 10% at a restaurant if you're a celebrity who has millions and her own show, because the recession has been hard on diners, but not really on waiters and waitresses.

I think that people with lots of tattoos will be sorry when they get old.

I think that college football is awesome live.

I think dog clothes are usually kind of tacky, but they can also be dignified and useful.

I think Michael Jackson peaked in 1987 with Bad.

I think everyone should vote.

I think that Tom Hanks' best movie was Dragnet, and yes, I've seen Forrest Gump, Philadelphia and Castaway. He's just really funny in Dragnet.

I think if any of this offended you, you need to relax, and remember that when you're at the Olive Garden, you're family.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boo! Part II

In the last installment, I provided you with some rules for Halloween costumes. I hope it was helpful. Who am I kidding, of course it was! This time I will regale you with tales of my best Halloween costumes.

INDIANA JONES- I've been Indy twice, once when I was 8 and again at 16. I was a better Indy at 8 oddly enough. I think the key to this costume's greatness was to put some dirt and fake blood on my face. See, I think I look pretty damn good for an eight year old.

DR. PETER VENKMAN- This costume was so awesome I wore it both of the last two years. I think it might be the most accurate costume I've ever had. The real credit here goes to the wife for ordering the stuff and putting it all together. Not only was the jumpsuit cool,
I used my childhood proton pack to help build a new, super sweet proton pack. Save your toys, kids, they may come in handy some day. P.S. Ghostbusters Rule!

THE COUNT- Being a Muppet can be difficult, but you can pull it off if you don't insist on having someone put their hand up your butt. I was 6 when I was the Count, and my Grandma made me a killer costume complete with green cape and sash. Some no-nothings thought I was a Vampire, but to those with a discerning eye I was clearly the one and only Count. Idiots.

CHARLIE BROWN- This costume was easy, but cool. My wife was Lucy and we were super cute. At least that's what everyone told us at the time.

OBI WAN KENOBI- Cloak? Check. Boots? Check. Lightsaber? Check. The wife made this badass costume for me a few years back, and I've worn it well. Little known fact: Jedis love to dance.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Boo! Part I

Halloween is right around the corner, and as such I have some thoughts, go figure. I have always liked this holiday because it allowed me, a theatre kid, to dress up in a costume and makeup. In the absence of any other days/occasions to get dressed up as an adult, I relish Halloween these days. With that said, I feel that there are some rules that must be adhered to with Halloween costumes.

Number One- pre-made, bagged, everything in one package costumes are super weak. I can't even begin to say how much I abhor a crappy, poorly fitting, generic costume. Just
to let you know, Indiana Jones doesn't wear a shirt with his name on it, so save yourself the humiliation and put the costume together yourself.

Number Two- A pair of bunny ears, a witch hat or devil horns is not a costume. Try a little harder, or don't bother. "Look, I'm a kitty. See the ears?" No, you're an idiot in a poor excuse for a costume. Go home, you're killing the mood.

Number Three- A festive fall or Halloween sweater is not a costume. This might be worse than number two because at least then you're trying to be something else. In this case you're just a loser in a fugly sweater. Was the D.I. having a sale? Nice sweater.

Number Four- Group costumes are awesome. Anytime you can get a group to commit and follow through on a costume idea is a major coup. I have a hard time committing to a costume, and I understand how working with others complicates things. I give major points to groups.

Number Five- Couples costumes are great too. Just like group costumes, couples who do funny or cool stuff together can be really sweet. I have done a couple of these with the wife, and they have always gotten a good response. This can be super lame though, so watch out for those loser couples that do costumes that look like a Sadie Hawkins matching outfit. "We're wearing Hawaiian shirts. We're being Hawaiian for Halloween." No, you're not.

Number Six- Go for funny. I have seen some great funny costumes. Funny trumps scary any day in my book. Scary is tough to do well, so unless you are a makeup artist, keep it simple and funny.

Number Seven- Masks suck. They suck for the person wearing them, and they are a total cop out.

That's all, but tune in later for more Halloween musings.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles

Directed by John Carpenter

Of all the slasher/serial killer/thriller movies, this is my favorite. Made with a tiny budget, a relatively unknown cast, and a William Shatner mask, Halloween set the standard for a new wave of scary movies. Forget Freddie and Jason, I'm a Michael Myers fan. Admittedly, there is a lot of cheesey stuff in this movie, but I'm sorry to say it still scares me.

Set in Haddonfield, Illinois, this film chronicles the return of Michael Myers to his hometown to finish a killing spree he started as a small boy. He is the epitome of evil, and is hunted by the very knowledgeable expository character, Dr. Loomis (Pleasence). Jamie Lee Curtis plays the prime target of Myers' murderous rampage, and makes her scream-queen mother proud in her breakout performance. The amateurish look of the film adds to the scariness, and there are few things more haunting than the eerie score, composed by director and writer John Carpenter.

Forget the compromised new Halloween by Rob Zombie, or the many craptacular sequels like H20 or whatever, and watch the original again, or for the first time. Even though there are a few predictable and even annoying parts, there are enough good scares to make this my favorite Halloween movie.

Things to watch for-

Sexy teenagers who meet untimely ends
Wire hangers/knitting needles save lives
The bitchin' van
A potential sequel?

"Was that the Boogey Man?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I get irritated like anyone else, but some things get me really riled up. Here now are some of my biggest pet peeves.

YOUR signifies ownership. YOU'RE is a contraction for YOU ARE. Now, tell me what's wrong with this sentence I found on Facebook. "Your so lucky that I know your gay."

People who end sentences with "at" are officially on my list. Not only does it sound so unintelligent, but it could not be more grammatically incorrect. I want to know where you are, not where you are at.

Salt Lake City drivers cannot in their wildest dreams figure out a four way stop. The first person there goes first. If you arrive at the same time then the person to the right gets to go first. It's that simple. Don't try to be nice and let me go, what is nice is following the rules. That would be the nicest thing to do.

Terms like "let's touch base," "win-win," "24/7," and "reinvent the wheel."

People who say there are no dumb questions. Guess what there are. How about this one- "Who discovered the moon?"

People who go to a party, but don't eat or drink anything. Just pretend! It is not that hard, and when you don't at least try, everyone thinks you're weird and it makes them feel uneasy.

That's all for now, but I can probably find some more stuff to get pissed off about.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Open Letter to Music

Dear Music,

Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste- they call me, Dr. Love. I wanted to tell you that I love your ways, everyday. I will always love you, because I remember where I was when I first listened to the music. I know that it's a long way to the top, but I think that you do so much to Help! all the lonely people. Where do they all come from anyway? I digress. All those lonely days in my room all by myself made me feel like a natural woman (man). It was like a hurricane when I went my own way and heard that old time rock and roll. It was all I could do not to twist and shout and rock and roll all nite. I'll admit it was hard to hide my love away, but I guess that's why they call it the blues. You have made a supersonic man out of me, and the man in me is flying like an eagle because you have been there for me on all those nights- the hard day's nights, the nights on broadway, the Saturday nights, the night Chicago died. I can't thank you enough, music. You were there with us on the highway to hell, you were there when we were too hot too stop, you were there when Captain Jack made out with my best friend's girl and then they hopped the last train to Clarksville. You were there when Daniel and I said goodbye to the yellow brick road and went to the pilot with Bennie and the Jets. I may have been a bit of a problem child, but deep down I have always had you in my life. You were there for the changes and the fame, you were there at the crossroads, and you will be there at the end. Thank you music, for taking and chance on me, and for being a friend.


Dr. Love

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beverages I Enjoy

I like a nice beverage. Some I only like at certain times, but others I enjoy all the time. Here now is a list of some of my favorite beverages, and when I like them.

Miller High Life- This is my favorite low-end beer. I can enjoy it at a party where I don't need to impress anyone. I'll drink it as a tall boy, but I prefer it in a bottle. It is, after all, the Champagne of Beers.

Newcastle Brown Ale- I love this beer. It can be drunk on its own or with a meal. I have found it to be surprisingly good with Mexican food and burgers. Go figure!

Cutthroat Pale Ale- This is my favorite Utah microbrew. It is from the Uinta brewery and I think it is vastly better on tap than in a bottle. But if you twist my arm, I'll drink it out of the bottle.

Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light- I mix up a pitcher of this a few times a week. It is so satisfyingly thirst quenching I can't even explain it. This goes well with a nice sandwich, chips and pickle. MMMMM.

Ginger Ale- This used to be my favorite drink, and I had it around all the time. I had to stop drinking it because of the sugar, hence the switch to Crystal Light. I'll only have it on special occasions like Christmas now. If you're having me over, Schweppes is my favorite. Canada Dry is swill. I'll drink jock strap sweat out of a shot glass before I drink Canada Dry.

Gin/Vodka and Tonic- A great summer beverage. A little G&T or V&T is a great way to relax on the deck at the cabin. Make sure to have it with a squeeze of lime.

Scotch and Soda- I don't need a really spendy Scotch, I like Dewars or Cutty Sark or McClelland's. This is what I enjoy in the fall and winter. I was told I needed a cold weather cocktail, and this is what I came up with. I also like it because the soda makes it bubbly.

Some Others I Enjoy-

Cherry Coke Zero
Dr. Pepper
Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer
Squatter's Full Suspension Pale Ale
Kilt Lifter Ale
Guinness (On St. Patrick's Day)

Damn, I'm thirsty. Happy drinking!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Janine Garofalo, David Hyde-Pierce, Paul Rudd, Michael Showalter, Amy Poehler

My friend Preston introduced me to this movie a few years ago, and I could not be more thankful to him. I was reluctant to watch it at first, but he was persistent and now I rank this film in my top five comedies of all time. I have even participated in two Wet Hot costume contests with friends because it is such a great cult classic. It is at th
e same time a spoof, satire, gross-out comedy, tribute to summer camp and showcase for young comedy talent. It is directed by David Wain who more recently brought us the funny film- Role Models. After you watch Wet Hot, go back and watch Role Models for the references to this movie.

It is the last day of camp in 1981 at Camp Firewood and there is an abundance of activity going on. In addition to the love triangle of Coop, Katie and Andy, there is the saga of Gene the cook and the can of vegetables, Victor and Neil's trip to Moose river, the talent show and a rogue piece of Skylab that threatens the whole camp.

Everyone in the film is hilarious. I don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen it because it needs to be watched for the first time without knowing too much. I knew about 4 minutes in that this was a very special comedy. If you've been to camp, you'll appreciate it even more, but it will still be funny if you never even came close to going to summer camp. By the way, the soundtrack kicks ass!

Things to Watch For-

Law and Order SVU's Christopher Meloni as Gene
Rachel Clipper-Hofferman
The Hangover's Bradley Cooper as Ben
Dick Cream, Sweaters, Mud and the Fridge
"The New Way"

"In your dreams, Douchebag."
"Douchebags are hygenic products, I take that as a compliment."

Below is me and my friends as Wet Hot peeps-

"Next time, you drive the van."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things I've Told People

I say things. Some are true and others are not at all. I like to make people wonder, and so here are some things- true or not, that I have told people.

The song 'Big Shot' by Billy Joel has the line 'with the spoon up your nose' which many think refers to a cocaine spoon. In fact, it refers to a time in Joel's youth when he was in a car with his family having milkshakes. His father was forced to stop quickly and the spoon went up Joel's nose.

Christopher Walken almost played Han Solo in Star Wars.

I was voted most limber boy in high school.

The only movie I've ever seen by myself is What Women Want.

Soccer was originally called 'Checkerboard Ball.'

Pope Innocent III's nickname was 3 Cent.

Scotland Yard is called that because the grass in the courtyard was grown in Scotland by Scottish gardeners.

Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his role as Pep Streebeck in Dragnet.

I had an imaginary friend named Kicky.

The spinoff to the show 'Medium' is called 'Large.'

Batman could actually happen.

Tune in next time for more bullshit.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virgina Madsen, Sandra Oh

In the lead-up to my wedding, I watched this movie countless times. I want to qualify that last statement with this thought, I did not aspire to do any of the things these men did in the film. This film is a first rate example of what not to do before you get married.

Sideways chronicles two friends' trip to Santa Barbara wine country prior to one's wedding. The film is a great tale of the last fling before marriage, but it is also so much more. The two main characters, Jack and Miles, are such lying, disingenuous cads that you can't help but find everything they do horrifying and hilarious. Sideways feels like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, because you are constantly surprised at how low the main characters are willing to go, but there is still something endearing about them as well.

Not only is this film funny and quirky indie fair, it has a great poppy jazz soundtrack, beautiful cinematography and a great slice of wine culture. I don't really like wine, but since seeing Sideways I have tried to get into it- just because this film made it look so appealing.

The dialogue and relationships in the film are very flawed, and that is why they ring true. Giamatti and Haden Church are such great foils for each other, and the women really make them multi-dimensional misanthropes. If you haven't seen this movie, watch it. If you have, watch it again, and then give yourself a little gift. Watch it with the commentary by Giamatti and Haden Church- it is almost funnier than the movie itself. I can say that it is the best commentary- ever. Raise a glass of pinot, not merlot, and enjoy a modern classic.

"You need to get your joint worked on."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things I Think

Recently I have been inclined to change my personal philosophy. I was very much in a rut, and since realizing this, I have been committed to the idea of living life rather than life living me. So far I have done okay at getting out of my little rut, and as such I have some new ideas about life and other things in general.

I think that no job should be made to be the answer to all your problems.

I think that everyone, especially couples, should be open to the idea of therapy- just to help work through stuff that comes up.

I think that fantasy football makes every game that is on T.V. much more interesting.

I think that professional athletes are lucky to be doing what they do for a living, and that any complaints about their lives that they have are ridiculous.

I think everyone should make an effort to get to know something about their heritage, especially from their family members.

I think that Newhart had the best final episode of any show. Ever.

I think that marrying for looks or money alone is sad. Love, people, and sense of humor.

I think that everyone should have a hobby or hobbies that fulfills them on many levels.

I think that texting is kind of dumb.

I think that when you feel insecure, you should remember that everyone is much more concerned with themselves than you.

I think all homophobes need to make a gay friend and realize that their fears and bigotry are silly.

I think that games are fun to play with friends.

I think Tyra Banks, Dane Cook, Jeremy Piven, Mark Wahlberg, Rush Limbaugh and Terrell Owens need to go away.

I think Curb Your Enthusiasm should be called Seinfeld: The Next Generation.

I think I'm done.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Movie of the Week

This week,


William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Ricardo Montalban

This is, hands-down, the best Star Trek movie. All real Trekkies agree that this film captures all that was great about the original series. I love introducing this film to non-Trekkies who say, "I like the one with the whales," only to have them recant after seeing Khan. Sure, "the one with the whales" (Star Trek IV) is good, but nothing beats Khan vs. Kirk in an all-out space cage match.

Since the release of the latest Star Trek film, which I like, I have gone back to look at the old films to see if they still hold up when compared to the shiny, lens-flarey new one. To answer myself, they do, and Star Trek II most of all. What I hope to see in the sequels to the latest Trek is the depth of character and engaging plot that we saw in Khan. Certainly special effects have come a long way since 1982, but Star Trek was never about the effects, they were just a means to advance an interesting story.

Star Trek II's story is about an aging Kirk who feels worn out and useless, but he's quickly thrust into a battle with his old nemesis Khan Noonien Singh for his life and the secrets of the Genesis device. Genesis is the planet transforming weapon developed by Kirk's son and baby mama, which adds even more depth to the story. This film is as complete as it gets, and has a great many memorable moments. Let's also not forget the ear slugs, a sultry, pre-metric ton Kirstie Alley as Saavik, Khan's chest and the battle in the Mutara nebula. Oh, and Spock dies.

No matter what J.J. Abrams does with the future of Star Trek, we can be assured that it reached its cinematic peak in 1982.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Best of the Beatles Part III (Post-Beatles)

After they broke up, each of the Beatles embarked on their own solo careers. While they were never as successful apart, they did produce some good work that is very listenable. I for one think that George's post-Beatles work is the finest, just because he had more of a backlog of songs that John and Paul never let him record. Paul's work was the most prolific, but somewhat stilted. John did some nice work, particularly right before his untimely death in 1980. And Ringo, well he wrote some stuff too- some of it actually quite good. Here now is the best of the band, after the band.


1. All Things Must Pass (Harrison)
Many of these songs were leftover from the Beatles days, and could have been great Beatles hits. Instead, George put them on a double album and the result is the best of the Beatles solo work. There are classics like What is Life?, My Sweet Lord and All Things Must Pass, but some of the lesser known tracks are great as well. Wah-Wah, Awaiting on You All and I Dig Love hold up quite well as solid rock songs with inventive instrumentation. While this album is vintage Harrison, it is also vintage rock and roll.

2. Band on the Run (McCartney and Wings)
The high water mark for Wings, Band on the Run boasts the two best Wings songs, Jet and Band on the Run, as well as a great cover. While Wings had some other decent albums, this one is the most complete and fully formed. Paul's mastery as pop rock is in full bloom here.

3. Double Fantasy (Lennon)
Forget the crappy Yoko songs on this joint effort and listen to Lennon's final album. Released just before his death, John goes back to his roots with thoughtful lyrics in the vein of In My Life, as well as good rock melodies. (Just Like) Starting Over, Watching the Wheels and Cleanup Time are best among the ones here. Too bad we'll never hear what he might have been capable of afterward.


Instant Karma
Cold Turkey
Whatever Gets You Thru the Night
I'm Stepping Out
Cleanup Time
Mind Games
(Just Like) Starting Over

Helen Wheels
Live and Let Die
Maybe I'm Amazed
Flaming Pie
Band on the Run
Junior's Farm
Hi Hi Hi

Got My Mind Set On You
When We Was Fab
What is Life?
My Sweet Lord
The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp
Cheer Down

La De Da
Back Off Boogaloo
You're Sixteen
It Don't Come Easy


JOHN- Plastic Ono Band
PAUL- Wings
GEORGE- Traveling Wilburys
RINGO- The All-Starr Band


Ringo, George- It Don't Come Easy, Photograph

Paul, Ringo- Beatiful Night

Paul, George, Ringo- All Those Years Ago

Paul, John, George, Ringo- Free as a Bird, Real Love

Concert For George- Paul, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston (Something, For You Blue, While My Guitar Gently Weeps)


Monday, September 7, 2009

Best of the Beatles Part II

Here's a follow-up to my last post. I realized when I pressed Publish Post, that I forgot to recognize some of the Beatles' best work. Nobody's perfect, not even yours truly.


Strawberry Fields Forever- Great variety, thoughtful lyrics. "I Buried Paul."
A Day in the Life- The Orchestra makes it. The emerging drug/sexual culture gets confirmation with " I'd love to turn you on."
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- Not a drug song, but great imagery in the lyrics.
Magical Mystery Tour- Roll up, the mystery tour is a great entre into another groovy 60's album.


Money (With the Beatles)
Roll Over Beethoven (With the Beatles)
Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey (Beatles for Sale)
A Taste of Honey (Please Please Me)
Long Tall Sally
Honey Don't (Beatles for Sale)


1. Sgt. Pepper
This cover is like a piece of modern art. The band in their hippie band uniforms, the crowd of celebrities, and the Paul is Dead references make it the most artsy, hip and mysterious cover they ever had.

2. Abbey Road
So iconic, it has spawned more parodies than any other. Also, it is rife with more dead Paul stuff. 28 IF?

3. A Hard Day's Night
Another iconic cover, with the great headshots of the band in a mod 60's arrangement. Super fab, baby!

4. With the Beatles
Dark and artsy, it set the standard for all the later covers with a cool, yet introspective look at the fab four. Sorry, Ringo there's no room for you up here.

5. The Beatles (The White Album)
So simple, so elegant. If Calvin Klein designed album covers he would have done them like this. No band ever could back up a plain cover like that with a great 2 disc set. Except the Beatles.


Eric Clapton- Played awesome guitar on While My Guitar Gently Weeps and smoothed over the somewhat contentious White Album sessions.

Pete Best- The first drummer, but his lack of jewelry and normal name couldn't compare with his eventual replacement.

Billy Preston- Great pianist that added a much needed element to the live sound of the Let it Be albums. Also smoothed over some friction, and nearly made it as a full time member of the group.


Hello, Goodbye
I am the Walrus
Lady Madonna
Paperback Writer

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Best of the Beatles

Other than James Bond, there is nothing I know more about than the Beatles. I first fell in love with the Liverpudlian super group in seventh grade, and even though I listen to them less than I did then, I still consider them the best band of all time. Even those who don't necessarily like their music can recognize the mark they have left on the world, forever changing the way we hear and experience music. With the upcoming release of Beatles Rock Band later this week, I am cashing in on their renewed popularity with a list of Beatles bests. By the way, where was this game when I was a teenager? My version of Beatles Rock Band was an air guitar and sing-along to their greatest hits. Here now is the Best of the Beatles.


1. Revolver (1966)
This is their finest work. The precursor to Sgt. Pepper, Revolver is deeper, more varied and dare I say more experimental. Even though Sgt. Pepper ushered in the summer of love and a rock revolution, Revolver is much better from start to finish. Each song can be heard over and over again, and this is the only Beatles album that can boast that accomplishment. In addition to having some great Lennon/McCartney cuts, this album boasts the arrival of George Harrison as a bona fide songwriter. Taxman, Love You To and I Want to Tell You are all among his best- Taxman especially for its topical lyrics and aggressive guitar riffs. I also love the variety- the symphonic Eleanor Rigby, the LSD fueled Dr. Robert and the wildly experimental Tomorrow Never Knows. All in all a masterpiece. Great Klaus Voorman cover as well.

2. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Even though the film of the same name was a big dud, the album is a triumph. Though it boasts some forgettable numbers (Flying, Blue Jay Way) it also has some of the band's best. Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane are two of their best all time songs, All You Need is Love is a classic hippie anthem and Hello, Goodbye one of their most fun clean pop tracks. Even Paul's ballad The Fool on the Hill is a very listenable tune. The real standout here is one of my all time faves- I am the Walrus. Probably the weirdest song recorded by the boys, it has as John put it "enough little goodies to keep you interested even a hundred years on." I agree, and the same is true of the album.

3. Abbey Road (1969)
The last album recorded (but not the last released) is another gem in the catalog. I love 90% of this album and it is easy to see why. Abbey Road boasts such classics as Something, Come Together and Here Comes the Sun, but it is the lesser known songs that make this album shine. You Never Give Me Your Money is a great little diddy, as is Maxwell's Silver Hammer, the happiest song ever about murder, and the finale trio of Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End. While other albums boast some more showy numbers, this one seems more heartfelt and complete as far as the whole band giving their all. This is true because they knew it was their swan song. A fine farewell to a great band.


I am going to break this section down into sub catagories because it is too hard to separate out a few as the "best."


I'm So Tired (White Album)
Help! (Help!)
Don't Let Me Down
Norwegian Wood (Rubber Soul)
I'm a Loser (Beatles for Sale)


Can't Buy Me Love (A Hard Day's Night)
Lady Madonna
Hey Jude
Drive My Car (Rubber Soul)
Get Back (Let it Be)
Yesterday (Help!)


Something (Abbey Road)
Taxman (Revolver)
I Need You (Help!)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (White Album)
Here Comes the Sun (Abbey Road)
For You Blue (Let it Be)


Helter Skelter (White Album)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band
Get Back
I'm Down
A Hard Day's Night


Blackbird (White Album)
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Help!)
In My Life (Rubber Soul)
Let it Be
This Boy


Eight Days a Week (Beatles for Sale)
Good Day Sunshine (Revolver)
Octopus' Garden (Abbey Road)
I Saw Her Standing There (Please, Please Me)
All My Loving (With the Beatles)
Day Tripper

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Love Legitimate Theatre

As a one time theatre major, I have a love for live stage productions. There is nothing quite like being in an audience with live actors performing right in front of you. Fortunately for me, Salt Lake City has a wealth of professional and amateur companies as well as touring shows to offer. Thanks to Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake Acting Company, Utah Opera, Broadway Across America and many others, I have seen a great deal of amazing live performances. Here is a list of some of the best shows I have seen in the Salt Lake valley.

MY FAIR LADY (Pioneer)
NOISES OFF (Pioneer)
AMADEUS (Pioneer)
KING LEAR (Pioneer)

These are just a few selections, but suffice it to say, Salt Lake is a haven for the arts. So, please do yourself a favor and go see some of the fine work at one of our many theaters. It will be well worth it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce, Donald Sutherland

In honor of back to school time, I chose the quintessential college film for this week's movie. This film is easily in the top three all time comedies, and made fraternities something every guy wanted to join. I can say that this is true for me, and I can't thank Animal House enough for my fraternity experience.

Obviously, not every frat has characters as colorful as Bluto, Otter, Boon and Pinto, but if you've been in the Greek system or even gone to college, some part of this movie strikes a chord. College is a time for learning, growing as a person and finding yourself, but it is also a time for Toga parties, road trips, and pranks.

This movie sparkles in every scene, from the opening in the rival Omega house to the final assault on the homecoming parade. Also, few comedies are more quotable than this one. I really like to rate a film on its quotability, and on that scale Animal House is a ten out of ten.

Try these on for size.

"My advice to you is, start drinking heavily."

"Mind if we dance wif your dates?"

"Thank you, sir may I have another?"

"Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. Damn glad to meet you."

I could go on, but just know that there are so many more to choose from. As the kids start go back to school and the season changes from summer to fall just try to harken back to a simpler time where the trees are filled with underwear and the toilets explode. And remember above all that "Knowledge is Good."

Things to Look for-

Donald Sutherland's Ass
Seinfeld's Maestro as Niedermeyer
The Sorority pillow fight (those really do happen)
The amazing soundtrack

"Why Pinto?" "Why Not?"