Friday, February 23, 2007

Oscars... What Oscars?

Perhaps I spend most of my time with my son. Perhaps I spend more attention on my wife. Perhaps we’re spending more thought on new property. Perhaps I’m spending more time watching new television shows like Rome, Battlestar Galactica, Resuce Me, and Doctor Who. Perhaps I’m spending more time watching classic television shows like Columbo, Twilight Zone… and Doctor Who. ;)

It couldn’t have anything to do with the lack of movies that interest me and some of the jackassiest actors continuing to increase their jackassary. Could it?

I don’t even know what is out. I know I missed “For Your Consideration” and that I’ll grab it on DVD. “The Queen” came highly recommended, so that’s going to be a Netflix grab when possible. My mother speaks highly of “Little Miss Sunshine” and will loan it to me any time we have a couple of hours. I also hear that “Dreamgirls” is infectiously fun and entertaining. Knowing very little about “The Illusionist” the three musketeers are planning on getting together to catch that… with our without our wives.

I’ve seen “Cars”… more times than I have seen “Toy Story 2”. And I saw “Black Dahlia” in the theater… with some mixed feelings (especially about the lack-luster no-talent actor playing the lead).

However, for all the praise for Scorsese’s “The Departed” I’ve lost enthusiasm…much like my lost enthusiasm to watch “Gangs of New York”. I’ll see them both sometime, but they aren’t on my calendar.

Peter O’Toole might get an award out of Academy guilt. I’ve mentioned his career before… the man was nominated for his performances in some of the best films in cinema history:
“Lawrence of Arabia”, “Becket”, “The Lion in Winter”, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, “The Ruling Class”, “The Stunt Man”, and “My Favorite Year”.

Any actor would be glad to end his career on one of those films… and I believe Lawrence was his first film! And don’t forget, “My Favorite Year” came out twenty-five years ago!!!

My only interest in this year’s awards essentially rests upon him. If he doesn’t get it… then he continues to get no credit. If he gets it… then it is for any of his many great performances over the years in film. He already has the distinct “honor” of having more great performances and roles than many actors have Oscars.

The Oscar is such an over-rated honor anymore. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… what films do people remember? What films were remembered by folks in the 50s? The 70s? The 90s? In ten, twenty, or thirty years from today? “Titanic”??? I don’t think so. “The Shawshank Redemption”? If there’s any justice in the entertainment world, yes.

I'm just going to be a different kind of geek on Sunday... I'm playing D&D. ;)

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hair Care... What?!?!?!

You've got to be kidding. Saw this at the... well, it ain't a barber shop. Especially not if they sell this stuff. My sister's boyfriend calls it the man-spa. That's as good a name for it as any. (They used to have a very hot massage girl... in fact, I need to get another appointment as my back is effing killing me.)

How? Why??? I mean, I'm sure some ultra vain over-fourty gal who wants to make a great first impression (a lot of first impressions) with guys who have a MILF fetish.

"Betty"... I've never heard it used that way before. (Of course, I'm a Republican, and you know what those folks say about Republicans.) That strikes me as a little too cute. You know it ain't going to match very well. Maybe that is the point. This must be for the kookie women. You know the type. (Especially "Fun Betty".)

It makes me think of a specific comedy routine:
"This one's for the guys, only the guys. Go into a barber shop and tell the guy you want to get your pubic hair streaked. Nothing fancy, just FROST my BUSH! They'll be talking about you for years. The guy who had his pubic hair sectioned off with aluminum foil."
- George Carlin

Fine. Someone's found a niche market (which sounds like I'm using a euphamism)... good luck on the business. That said, I really wonder why I am amazed.


Rat Pack: What About Dean?

Sort of an anniversary present to the B&D. Sort of a Valentine's Day present, too. Sort of a night out with our friends (Hip J & the Doll plus another couple who are very dear to us).

The State Theater showed The Rat Pack Live at the Sands... a stage show originating in the UK that attempts to capture the spirit of Frank, Dean, and Sammy at the capital of swank, the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in the 60s. Some feat.

That's three legends... three legends who were legends when they were alive. Frank's career had enough peaks and valleys for three singers (or Hollywood stars). Dean wasn't the world's greatest singer, but he knew how to sell a song... and he excelled in personality. He could be the straight-man, hit a punch-line, give you a little song, give you a little dance, spray some seltzer down your pants, charm the women, be the envy of the men, and do it all effortlessly. Sammy... I don't even need to describe the man's accomplishments with anything other than the word genius.

Someone tried to cast that show? A show where each of the three leads would perform the songs that we remember them for, the gags we know them for, and not to mention interact between themselves... uh, huh. That's a tall order, baby.

Frank only died a short while ago... eight years this coming May 14th. (I remember the news coming down off the wire in the newsroom.) Dino was eleven years this past Christmas. The youngest, Sammy, died almost eight years before Frank... May 16th, 1990. They hadn't performed together much in the later years... but their antics were known by many, watched over and over in their films, and more recently played out on a number of CDs. (Not to mention the older releases of their individual live performances.)

Obviously, Sammy was the difficult one to cast. Sure, you didn't need him to dance all night, but that guy needed to do some dancing. It wouldn't be Sammy otherwise. There's the impersonations. Sam also knew how to play a few instruments. (Stevie Wonder before Stevie Wonder... plus eyesight in one eye.) Of course, everyone knows Frank. He was their leader... and, in one way or another, he demanded a little more of the spotlight. Not nearly as over-the-top as Sam, but that's like saying Audrey Hepburn isn't attractive because Marylin Monroe is hot. Then there's Dean. How do you cast personality like that?

Believe it or not the guy who plays Frank (Stephen Triffit) does a remarkable job. He doesn't struggle to play Frank... he just does it. He sounds like him, moves along like him, banters like him... he does a great performance. Unfortunately, the show features a few songs that (to my limited knowledge) do not come from the Sands shows... some recorded after those days, certainly New York, New York, and My Way. However, everyone knows Sinatra for those songs... and I'm sure the producers wanted to deliver some songs that some audiences would naturally think of.

Sammy is wild... right down to the suits. He blows a trumpet, taps up and down the stage, mugs, smokes, gives us one or two "babes", throws out a few well known lines ("If this don't straighten my hair nothin' will!"), cracks up at Frank and Dean (and himself), and delivers the Sammy style with an affectionate performance. Not an impersonation. Some of it seems too over-the-top... but this is Sammy. If the actor (David Hayes) didn't go well beyond the mark it would probably have seemed half-hearted. Sammy was just sooooo flamboyant. Again, the producers saw fit a song that probably wasn't ever done at the Sands... "Mr. Bojangles", but they slid it in as Sam's tribute to the time with his uncle and father (The Will Maston Trio) and it feels right.

Dean... smooth for sure. The guy they got (Nigel Casey) knows how to wear and walk in a tuxedo (a couple of them). He takes his time... just like Dean. However, when you compare the voices of Frank and Sammy with the real deal they come close enough. Dean's voice doesn't come as close... though, it sounds quite good. In fact, that might be the problem. Dean was very casual. That was the bit... so casual he was almost not there. This guy did a couple of prattfalls, and I'm not sure Dean did that. Even if he didn't, it fits the show. Also to his credit, his chat and gags work... not an easy task considering most of the jokes Dean used were old and stale when he did them. He (Dean as much as Casey) needed the audience's good will for the jokes to fly... and just like in the 60s, the audience rides along here.

Hell, considering the source two outta three isn't bad at all. You can tell it's two out of three... but those are three rather difficult guys to nail.

The wife and I decided to watch the HBO film "The Rat Pack" again on Sunday. Another film that tries to tackle a number of well-known faces with familiar voices... mostly done without impersonations. In fact, the make-up on Ray Liotta doesn't go out of the way to force Sinatra's mug on him... he's obviously Ray Liotta. Same with Joe Mantegna as Dino and Don Cheadle as Sammy. (Likewise with Angus Macfadyen as Peter Lawford and Bobby Slayton as Joey Bishop... if you have seen them before.)

Some of the film's musical numbers are done with voice dubs, however, the most of the stage scenes use the actor's voices. Whoever dubbed Dean's voice nailed it. Not only that, but Joe Mantegna clearly appreciates Dino (who can't?)... he nailed Dean's personality in the film. He got a Golden Globe for that performance.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The anniversary gift that was staring me right in the face.

It isn't bronze (although I found several pennies from 1944 to 1961). Rubber... a full-sized spare tire. She really likes the idea.

However, I haven't picked it up yet. We're currently on the Broke end of the spectrum, so we'll shop around briefly and buy it at the end of the month. Probably get a oil change, too. Maybe even a nice car wash.

She also liked the pennies. She thought that was cute. I made a nice super of sage pork chops, red onions, plum tomatos, and a salad. Ready as soon as she came home.

Now, what do I do for St. Valentine's Day? Ah, the saint's day turned into a mushy, secular yet pagan rite. We might have a nice dinner... I might even make it. The boy and I might bring her shopping, but only for some chocolate or (better than that) ice cream.

When your wedding anniversary comes so close to St. Valentine's Day, the heart-shaped box and roses lose their luster.