Monday, June 28, 2010

Summertime Jams #4: She's Wearing That Costume

Take a walk...and a spin on the dance floor...with the propulsive whimsy of "She's Wearing That Costume" by Head Like a Kite. A good time will be had by all (especially the panda :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Memphis Beat

I've never been to Memphis but Memphis Beat pulsates with so much sultry atmosphere, Southern charm, and undeniable music that it makes a visit to the city something I need to put on my bucket list.

The last time I saw Jason Lee he was shambling charmingly as the titular character in My Name is Earl (a show I didn't exactly love but which always provided a welcoming diversion on those NBC Thursday nights that I tuned in) and here he still exudes easy Southern charm as Dwight Hendricks, a police detective who is a true son of the city with a passionate love of both justice and the colorful citizens of the town as well as a passionate love of the blues and rock and roll pulsating at the heart of Memphis.

He is ably backed up by a strong cast including the always amazing Alfre Woodard (see below) as his boss Lt. Rice (Woodard deftly sidesteps the hard-bitten police supervisor cliches with equal measures of steel and willing to face down an armed suspect as she is to admit when she's wrong), DJ Qualls as an eager beaver uniformed cop, Sam Hennings as Hendricks' salty, sardonic partner, and Celia Weston as Dwight's adorably lively mother (who, much to Dwight's chagrin, is embarking on a new love affair with a smarmy carpetbagger.)

The first two episodes (the second episode..."Baby Let's Play House" with a fine guest turn by Juliette Lewis... airs Tuesday night on TNT) are full of quirky characters, human drama, bursts of action, some very fine music, great locations and backgrounds, and gentle hopes that they continue to build on that.

Wednesday Comics

This is one huge honkin’ comic book. And it’s one really beautiful comic book too.

Wednesday Comics was an experiment by DC Comics featuring tabloid sized comic pages featuring some acclaimed writers and artists presenting stories of DC characters…iconic and not-so-iconic…one page at a time published weekly (on newsprint no less.)

It seems unlikely to be repeated…16 tabloid pages for 4 bucks is probably too high a hurdle for a lot of comic fans to get over…but it was a grand little adventure just the same.

This big (17+” x 11+”) hardcover collects all of the stories on better paper and it’s a gorgeous comic book. All of DC’s big guns…Superman (with beautiful art by Lee Bermejo), Batman (a fine noir romance that might have needed a bit more room to breathe) and , Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash…are represented alongside of lesser-known (to the general public at least) classic characters like Hawkman, Sgt. Rock, the Metal Men, Deadman, Adam Strange, Metamorpho the Element Man, and Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth.

The art is almost all wonderful and some of the stories are better than other. I was charmed by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s whimsical Supergirl story featuring Krypto the Super Dog and Streaky the Super Cat (just go with it…:-), intrigued by Paul Pope’s pulp fiction re-imagining of the sci-fi hero Adam Strange, and engaged by the gritty WW2 Sgt. Rock story written by Adam Kubert and drawn by his legendary father Joe Kubert.

The rollicking Metamorpho adventure…by Neil Gaiman and Michael Allred…is also a great deal of fun as is the unlikely team-up of Catwoman and Etrigan the Demon by Walt Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze and Kyle Baker’s action-packed Hawkman story.

This book is pricey…it lists for $49.99…but it delivers in a big way. Wednesday Comics makes me happy and what more could you ask from a comic book than that?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summertime Jams #3: Days Like These

There are songs that you just know will sound amazing when you're rollin' on a balmy summer's day with the top down and the stereo turned up to 11. This here is one of those jams :-)

The Cat Empire with the madly engaging "Days Like These" (there's about 30 seconds of silence before the music starts but hang on it's worth the wait.)

Michael Jackson

It's been one year since the strange, magical, tragic, entertaining, controversial, fascinating, horrifying, and...yes...sometimes thrilling life of Michael Jackson ended. The death of the "king of pop" has been as full of murky intrigue and starry-eyed aggrandizement as his life (especially during the years when he was desperately trying to match the artistic and commercial juggernaut that was Thriller) became.

But, in the end, it probably won't be about any of the molestation charges (though those stand in the forefront of the memories of many) or the cosmetic surgeries or any of the other bizarre human circus trappings he wrapped himself will, instead, be about the music. During the past year Michael Jackson was again what he fervently wanted to be...the biggest selling pop star on the planet.

Not sure it qualifies as a "happy ending"...the man was dead at 50 after all...but I think part of Michael Jackson would be pleased with outpouring of tributes and sales that have flowed so freely since his death.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summertime Jams #2: Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly

Soothing as a balmy Summer's day, this song and this video make the season come to vibrant, engaging life. The amazing Lizz Wright with her shimmering version of "Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly":

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pixar's Hit Parade

Pixar has been on a creative roll since they hit the scene. There has yet to be a bad Pixar movie...some are better than others (I'm not a big fan of Cars, for example, though I still find a lot of it entertaining.)

Toy Story 3...which I had sequel-wary concerns about...proved to be another gem...touching, funny, even a bit intense, and utterly charming (though, that said, I hope they don't push their luck by trying to make Toy Story 4...let it go and move on.)

Entertainment Weekly recently ranked Pixar's list is different (see below)...yours will most probably be different too. It's all I said there are no bad Pixar movies.

The Neverending Rainbow rankings:

1) Finding Nemo (" are friends not food...")
2) The Incredibles
3) Up
4) Toy Story
5) Monsters, Inc.
6) Toy Story 3
7) Wall-E
8) Ratatouille
9) Toy Story 2
10) A Bug's Life
11) Cars

Next year's movie is scheduled to be Cars 2.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summertime Jams #1: Life is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)

The first day of summer and the first in a series.

Summertime radio...AM radio...was a blast in '70's. The sun was bright and the breezes were balmy (I grew up in Los Angeles and spent a lot of time on Venice and Santa Monica beaches listening to "Boss Radio" 93-KHJ) and the airwaves were full of wonderful (sometimes wonderfully silly) perfect pop songs that just made the summer days complete.

So first up is Reunion with the delightfully silly...and simply delightful..."Life is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)".

Happy summer, people :-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Whiskey or Water

…are you? baby, are you? whiskey or water?...

Pop quiz, pilgrim: What is the most compelling…the most evocative…the most thrilling and engaging thing in Rock and Roll?

The answer is the authentic voice. (Yeah I also have a fondness for a well-turned phrase but that’s a pontification for another time.)

Music is full of voices…some pristine and meticulous, some hard used and ragged, some polished by technology and trickery to a fare-thee-well…but it’s the authentic voice…the heartfelt, soulful, heartbreaking and soul quickening voice…that sends shivers down my spine and makes my jaded heart soar. Authentic voices are not nearly as prevalent as they should be…not by a long shot.

But V.K. Lynne…V.K. Lynne has an authentic voice. And damn if she doesn’t make my jaded, music loving heart soar into the heavens. She soars…she growls…she purrs…she belts out blues and testifies to the healing power of rock and roll. She is the real deal. She is the authentic voice.

I’ve sung the lady’s praises before (see here and here) and I should have sung the praises of this gritty and tuneful, powerfully rocking and soulful album long before this (the reasons for the absence of new music on this page are too many and too boring to bother you with here.)

Producer James Thomas provides a full-bodied foundation for that voice…that wondrous voice and the clear-eyed, bittersweet poetry of V.K.’s lyrics.

The opening track, the anthem-like “Find Me”, rides soaring guitars until the suspense is almost unbearable and then, just in the nick of time, is the voice…and all is already alright and I’m in love again (my love is chaste and respectful…but no less heartfelt for that…)

And it flows through you…that joy that music brings when it’s real…when it’s thrilling and engaging…for 9 more tracks (from the rueful blues of “Mess Like You” to the title track to the sweet sentiment of “Salvation in the Skies” to “He Rolls”, a simmering then percolating duet with Hogni you will search in vain to find a false note.)

Whiskey or Water isn’t a question, it’s an answer. And what a grand answer it is.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010


This TV season hasn’t been much to speak about for me…American Idol was almost unwatchable (thanks to Crystal Bowersox for doing her best to try to save it)…Heroes died…CSI, 30 Rock, Project Runway, and The Office all limped through uneven, too often tepid seasons.

Thankfully there was Breaking BadMad MenParks and Recreation...the first half of Community’s season (they kinda limped to the finish on auto pilot…but they got a lot of goodwill for the amazing Halloween episode and the Troy and Abed shorts at the end of each episode)…Justified…and Glee.

Glee made me happy.

It was sometimes soapy and sometimes silly and sometimes sticky and sentimental…but that was all just fine by me…there were amazing musical numbers…and Madonna songs…and Sue Sylvester…and, most importantly, it made me happy.

Glee couldn’t save the whole season for me…but man, I’m glad it was there…and I’m glad it will be back next season.