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.