Saturday, October 01, 2005

True Real Life Fake People

Some years ago, the late, great Frank Zappa called the cable channel "A&E" the "Arms and Entertainment" channel since they aired much more programming about war than the alleged "Art" in their moniker. However, Executive VP of Programming announced this week they were "the home for character driven docusoaps."

The wha? Oh, the new label for "reality shows"!! Docusoap?? I thought that cut down on bacterial infection and had a lemony scent? Maybe its a question a surgery nurse asks doctors on their way to surgery.

Seems their busting with pride at "A&E" over the success of "Growing Up Gotti", so they've given a new show to the promote the TV barnstorming duo of Jim and Tammy Bakker's son. Should have called the show "Son of PTL Lives!!!". They also plan a show about SWAT teams who do jobs that do not actually require "special weapons" or "tactical" assistance. Daring.

Ummm .... so OJ Simpson wants to test the waters of celebrity status, 10 years after his acquittal on murder charges, so he goes to a sign autographs at a horror fan convention called "NecroComicon"?? Should he have waited until PBS aired their retrospective on his career. PBS and fan conventions -- a way do raise tens of dollars.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided they will hear the much-debated case of whether or not Anna Nicole Smith should inherit money from her dead, ex-husband. Will Chief Justice Roberts allow cameras for her TV show in the courtroom is my question. Maybe the Justices have a bet running on whether they're real or not. Yeah, those.


"These phones are made all wrong!!" If the picture doesn't amuse you, then check out the list of nicknames the President has for all those around him. Do your own imitation President voice as you say each fake name out loud and you'll be amused for .... well, a minute or two. (Yes, it's a PhotoShop picture.)

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Wallace Coleman Friday

Morristown native and master of the blues, Wallace Coleman, got a true education from a radio station - WLAC - whose musical influence is vast and covers many generations. Wallace plays harmonica and sings with an umistakeable voice. His band and own label, Pinto Blue Music, captures those great sounds live and in the studio. I first heard him about 3 years ago - the picture is from his show at the Rose Center - and I had a chance to interview him in January of this year. He's smooth as silk onstage, and makes that harp talk the blues as good as I've ever heard.

From his website, his bio offers a peek into the making of an artist:

As a youth in eastern Tennessee where country & western music still prevails, Wallace Coleman was instead captivated by the sounds he heard late at night from Nashville’s WLAC….the Blues.

The sounds haunted him by day where, he says, "I would be sittin’ in class and hear the Howlin’ Wolf singin’ just as clear in my head…" It was on WLAC that Coleman first heard those who would become Blues Legends and greatest musical influences: Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. Laying the guitar foundation on many of those recordings was Robert Jr. Lockwood – a man who, some 25 years in Coleman’s future, would play a role in his musical career.

Moving to Cleveland in 1956, Wallace caught the ear of Robert Lockwood and joined his band, the only harp player to ever join with Lockwood, and he is featured on the Grammy-nominated CD :I Gotta Find Me A Woman." But by then, Wallace was ready to step out on his own. The first two CDs I heard from him are on his own label, Pinto Blue Music, "Live at Joe's" and "Bad Weather Blues" and are always nearby my CD player. He tells a great story of grabbing a bus in Knoxville, TN on the title track of "Bad Weather Blues", and two tunes on the disc showcase his style and his band's easy grasp of cool licks, on his beautiful instrumentals of "Southern Comfort" and his own composition, "Blue Mist".

You can catch his concert schedule on his website, and keep your eyes peeled for annual concerts in east TN usually in Jan. or Feb. It don't get no better.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Good Thoughts From Iraq

I recently added a link to fine fellow from Dandridge who is serving in Iraq, Travis Stuart, and his most recent posts should make every American proud. I think he has a real understanding of what is at the heart of the nation. His comments on Sunday and Monday were outstanding. Here is a little from Sunday's post:

I read this morning about the Peace March on Washington yesterday, and I think that is a great thing. That is Democracy at it's greatest. That it is why I am proud to defend freedom and serve in the military. Just because the President and his men say it's right, doesn't mean it is so, and these folks have the freedom to express their beliefs. Hooray for them!

In no way do I feel it is a slap in the face for the American Public to demonstrate against the war in Iraq. As I said, that is freedom, and that is what I protect."

Spend some time reading Travis comments and I think you'll find he has a good insight to our world and he can also be pretty funny too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Camera Obscura "Serenity"

Went to the free screening of the movie "Serenity" Tuesday night, big thank you to Glenn at Instapundit and Mr. Silence at No Silence Here for making that possible. If you go to the Domestic Psychology blog, you can see me in the back row of her picture from the screening (way in back with a cap and a weird reflection on my glasses -- am I famous now??) And another shout out to marketing blogger Shel Holz for poking fun at me for my plea for tickets to the screening. Thanks for sending readers my way.

So this post is a Wednesday edition of my Friday film review, but don't miss Friday -- I'll have a special report on blues master Wallace Coleman -- yes I added him to the link list too.

I tried to nab a "Serenity" ballcap from a woman who was taking a head-count of attendees. She said "You have to know the right people to get one of these hats", so I said "I'm Joe, what's your name?" That's when she confessed she stole it from her hubby's stash, so no hat for me.

My review comes with some up front confessions -- I am a major fan of writer/director/producer Joss Whedon and his lists of writing awards ranges from an Oscar nod for "Toy Story" and an ANNIE as composer for "Lion King 2", and he has a reputation as The Go-To Man in Hollywood to polish a movie script. Most recently, he's been writing for "Astounding X-Men" for Marvel and is in pre-production for "Wonder Woman." Add to that the "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" series and "Angel," and it's plain the man loves stories about heroes. Yes, yes, I was also a fan of the abruptly cancelled science fiction TV series "Firefly," which is the basis of "Serenity" -- that's the name of the heroes' spaceship. And say this part LOUD -- STUPID FOX NETWORK. The movie would have to be a major-league mess for me not to enjoy it and a mess it wasn't. And I think anyone not familiar with the show will still enjoy the movie -- Whedon keeps humanity, with its frailties and flaws in the foreground as the world explodes around them.

One fact I know for sure -- if Mr. Whedon is given the job of telling an audience a story, whether it be drama or comedy or tragedy or fantasy or even sitcom, about 90% of the audience will get it right down to their bones. With a family history of writing for TV dating back to "Leave It To Beaver," he has a real knack for knowing how to invoke the conventions of a genre and how to revoke them.
George Lucas could take many lessons from Whedon about character, plot and storytelling. Many lessons.

Whedon has a gift for writing strong characters, showing their relationships and their humor and their wisdom and their loss. In most all his work, he creates that unique slang and short-hand communication that a group of friends will create. Even if those friends are in a far-distant future or just a local band of high school vampire slayers.

The setting is a post-civil war universe, where a former Rebel leader, Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) has moved past his losses and is now Captain of his own ship, working with an oddball crew on the edges of "civilization" with both legal and illegal business. Mal and his crew pick up a pair of fugitives - a young girl named River and her brother Simon - and the story of the movie begins with them and focuses on the Big Mystery from the TV series -- River. She has been undergoing cruel brain experiments under the evil empire of The Alliance, winners of the civil war, and Simon helps her escape. From the opening scenes on, you are dropped into this world and get some hilarious introductions to all the other characters onboard Serenity, and the story is off and running.

Whedon's brain must have a massive Melting Pot of Media, because he easily draws from it for all his work. "Serenity" has traces of the anime series "Cowboy Bebop", and "Star Wars" (uh, the first one, Part Four?), and even a whiff of "Gunsmoke". And he has a cast providing excellent performances. I'd bet cash money many viewers will leave the movie and buy the DVD collection of the series "Firefly," because these are interesting characters. They trail backstory like phermones and this is a vast world they inhabit. Whedon compresses it all into one movie much like Ridley Scott coalesced writer Phillip K. Dick's writings into "Blade Runner." Sadly, a few characters from the show slip into the background to keep the story steamrolling ahead, and the married couple aboard the ship, Zoe (Gina Torres) and Wash (Alan Tudyk) are more of a couple in the series versus the film. Again, it has to do with keeping the momentum rolling. Adam Baldwin, as Jayne, is a real standout here. The cast all have a vivid chemistry as the crew aboard Serenity, where calmness is fleeting.

I think Whedon has a solid entry here in his bow as feature film director. "Serenity" is at heart a tale about heroes. And heroes in the Whedonverse always have much to learn about what price it can exact. As one character says, "You know what a hero is don't you? It's someone that gets people killed." 'Nuff said.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Some Other Flavors or Tuesday At Last

We is past the Monday -- well it is evening, and that's close enough. Scanning back thru some of the recent posts here I know it seems as if Gloom were my only clothing and it ain't. I like to point to some of the absurd horror the good ole U S of A churns out like some 24-hour Slurpee machine, but they is other flavors and I know I'd like some so I know yer prolly hankering fer some too. (yep, been readin some old Pogo comics and I start talking like this). Sometimes the Absurd is sweet, like pie on yer birthday with ho-made ice cream (ya want cake, get it, i like pie on my birthday). Sometimes, the taste of the Absurd would elude even a description by Proust. (I saw an old Cagney move the other day, "Boy Meets Girl", 1938, and he was this movie scriptwriter who spoke so fast I wondered if he was mainlining coffee er something. Anyway, in the midst of this slapstick comedy he throws out a Proust reference and I wondered what in Sam Hill did the audience make of that in 1938. It's a dang funny movie though, especially if yer like me and up at 4 am and wondering what ever happened to sleep.)

Where was I? Oh yes I is. Allow me to introduce you to a Web Stop I love to make, called "blogjam dot cow". It's from "across the pond" as they say, and the post of Sept. 20th has something anyone could like -- how to make the perfect chip -- which means French Fries here, unless The Gov made it illegal to say it. Man, oh man, do they look good!! The dude here has some serious zeal in the kitchen. Once he had a wild game cookout and posted all the details and I was slobberin' fer some grilled zebra and spicy locust chow. (Jes' say the phrase blogjam dot cow and you'll smile some).

He also is The Brain behind one of the most omni-present items to be found on the Web: Cat Pictures. He has a great site called the Random Kitten Generator, which means lots of cat pics. And so far, it has passed over 100,000,000 page impressions. And check out his Cats In Sinks -- yep, jes' like the name says it is. There's also his Animal Portal, which is great for kids and also includes the sounds each animal makes. I never knew what a lemur from Madagascar looked liked much less how it sounded, so I loved clicking on that one over and over. My neighbors musta loved that. Little bugger can really howl and hoot. And if you do nothing else, you'll find his short film of what Neil Armstrong really said when he landed on the moon some of the filthiest stuff a NASA man ever said.

Here's two of the 100 quotes from the profile of blogjam dot cow's creator:
26. My first proper job was working at McDonalds on Saturdays. I was fired before my trial period had expired for shooting the manager in the face with a mayonnaise gun. It was not an accident.
28. I was once given a morphine suppository.

Since we are on the Other Continent, why just looky here at what has happened in the old Soviet Union -- they've discovered that sex makes ya feel "healthy, cheerful, strong, and beautiful. In other words - pretty dang good. Why, that could be the tag line fer Gold Bond Medicated Powder. Pravda has the story, so there is some kind of changes a'happenin in the ol' Russky-land. (Though I'm sure since I've linked to this page I'll end up on another watch list.)

Two more to go: This next one is courtesy of The Rodeo Monkey, who has found a vast compendium of knowledge about Sock Monkeys and Space Monkeys and even, yes, a Space Sock Monkey. There's pages of stuff here to read while yer boss ain't looking, from the Able to Zira and beyond.

(Oh and since I did not add this note before, I will add it here -- the new Masthead at the top of the page was created by The Editor, that saucy wench, whose patience and skill about computers I can nearly eliminate in seconds flat, so thanks fer the banner, Editor)

And jes' cause I asked him, Tennessee Jed made up one of those photos that jes' make me laugh. Jed says there's half a bajillion like 'em on Google if ya go searchin', but this one here is pure, Grade-A Jed-Made. I like this picture, cause when I was a kid, this feller was jes' a goofball inside MAD Magazine -- and hey, looky, he grew up and became President!!

Pictures Tell The Story

Tennessee blogger 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera has a knack for images and facts that can make an strong impression. Such as the one titled Where Was George? Even a casual observer of news reporting would remember the W.'s constant rollout of supplies and assistance in Florida during a re-election year. And the massive federal effort ahead of Hurricane Rita. However, casual observers also know where he was when Katrina hit - pickin' and grinnin'.