Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Movies, Books, Theater, Concerts, CDs I Saw In 2009

Updated December 31, 2009

MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES

1. The Counterfeiters ***
2. Tell No One ** 1/2
3. Holiday Affair (1949 w Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh) ***
4. Frozen River (at MoMa) ***/
5. Revolutionary Road **
6. Drums (1938 w Sabu) *
7. The Wrestler ***/
8. Doubt *
9. I Loved You So Long **
10. Trouble The Waters **
11. The Complete Horatio Hornblower TV Series ****
12. The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey w Ian Carmichael from 1970s ** 1/2
13. Lord Peter Wimsey w Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter from 1980s *** 1/2
14. Billy The Kid (2007 docu) *** (extras zero stars for cluelessness)
15. Academy Award Shorts: Lavatory Love Story ***; Octopodi **; House Of Small Boxes *** 1/2 (the eventual winner); Undertaker **; Presto ** 1/2; German shoplift short ***; New Boy ***; Toyland Holocaust *; The Pig ***; French dying girl short **
16. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian * 1/2
17. The Edge Of Heaven *** 1/2
18. Chris and Don: A Love Story ***
19. Leave Her To Heaven ** 1/2
20. Watchmen **
21. Bolt ***
22. Schoolhouse Rock: Earth ** 1/2
23. Follow That Bird * 1/2
24. Never Say Never Again * 1/2
25. Monsters Vs. Aliens (in 2-D) **
26. The Spirit -- no stars
27. Seven Pounds ** 1/2
28. Woodstock Director's Cut (1970 )(at EbertFest) ****
29. Chop Shop (at EbertFest) ***
30. Begging Naked ** (at EbertFest)
31. The Last Command (1928) (at EbertFest w new score performed by Alloy) *** 1/2
32. The Fall (at EbertFest) ** 1/2
33. Sita Sings The Blues (at EbertFest) ***
34. Nothing But The Truth (at EbertFest) ** 1/2
35. Let The Right One In (at EbertFest) *** 1/2
36. Mulligans *
37. Caprica (TV preview on DVD) **
38. Role Models ** 1/2
39. Observe And Report ** 1/2
40. Duplicity *** 1/2
41. The Inglorious Bastards (1978) ** 1/2
42. Star Trek ***/ (on second viewing *** 1/2)

AT CANNES:

43. Up *** 1/2
44. Fish Tank ***
45. My Neighbor My Killer ** 1/2
46. Thirst **
47. Precious ** 1/2
48. Bright Star **
49. Police, Adjective *** 1/2
50. Taking Woodstock ** 1/2
51. A Prophet ****
52. Jaffa **
53. Mother ** 1/2
54. Samson & Delilah ***
55. Kinatay * 1/2
56. Vengeance ** 1/2
57. The Army Of Crime **
58. Le Pere De Mes Enfants *
59. Anti-Christ *
60. Looking For Eric ***
61. Irene * 1/2
62. Daniel Y Ana ** 1/2
63. Vincere * 1/2
64. Broken Embraces **
65. Les Herbes Folles * 1/2
66. I Love You, Phillip Morris **
67. Inglourius Basterds *** 1/2
68. Eyes Wide Open ***
69. Sister Smile (in market; biopic of Singing Nun) **
70. The White Ribbon * 1/2
71. I Killed My Mother ***/
72. The Time That Remains *** 1/2
73. A Town Called Panic **
74. The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus * 1/2
75. The Silent Army *
76. Enter The Void * 1/2
77. Map Of The Sounds Of Tokyo -- no stars
78. To Die Like A Man *
79. Montparnasse *
80. The King Of Escape **
81. Spring Fever **
82. in The Beginning **
83. Visages **
84. Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky * 1/2

END OF CANNES FILMS

85. Moon (w Sam Rockwell) **
86. Dodge City (1939) ***
87. Zenobia (1939 Laurel & Hardy) no stars
88. The Hangover ** 1/2
89. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen *
90. The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009 version) **
91. Public Enemies **
92. Bruno no stars
93. For All Mankind (1989) *** 1/2
94. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ** 1/2
95. Remember The Night (1940) ***
96. The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1939) ** 1/2
97. Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939) **
98. The Hurt Locker ***/
99. Funny People **/
100. Firefly: The Complete Series ****
101. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra *
102. The Undercover Man (1949) ** 1/2
103. The Rounders (1965) **
104. Watch On The Rhine (1943) * 1/2
105. Ride With The Devil: Director's Cut ***
106. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) ****
107. Julie & Julia ** 1/2
108. (500) Days Of Summer ****
109. The Goods -- no stars
110. The Time-Traveler's Wife * 1/2
111. I Love You, Man ** 1/2
112. District 9 ***
113. Ponyo ***/
114. Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940) ***
115. Dragonball: Evolution *
116. Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin' (1971) ** 1/2 but final third ****
117. X-Games 3-D **
118. Katyn ***
119. Tezuka Osamu Collection on DVD *** 1/2
120. Newcastle * 1/2
121. I'm Still Waiting (1957) Japanese noir *** 1/2
122. Rusty Knife (1958) Japanese noir ***
123. 17 Again *
124. Hannah Montana: The Movie **
125. Bandslam ***
126. The Clock (1945) ***
127. The Window ***
128. The Last Days Of Disco ***
129. Post-Grad * 1/2
130. The Final Destination 3-D *
131. Gamer no stars
132. It Might Get Loud *** 1/2
133. Extract ***/
134. Taken ** 1/2

AT TORONTO INTL FILM FESTIVAL:

135. Huacho ** 1/2
136. Dogtooth ***
137. A Serious Man *** 1/2
138. Up In The Air *** 1/2
139. Vahalla Rising **
140. Waking Sleeping Beauty ***
141. Dorian Gray *
142. Capitalism: A Love Story ** 1/2
143. The Trotsky **
144. A Brand New Life ***
145. Phantom Pain * 1/2
146. Youth In Revolt * 1/2
147. The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee ** 1/2
148. Soul Kitchen ***
149. Bitch Slap *
150. Life During Wartime ** 1/2
151. A Simple Man ***\
152. Max Manus ** 1/2
153. Lebanon **
154. Northless ***
155. I Am Love ** 1/2
156. Solomon Kane **
157. Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel ** 1/2
158. Cole **

END OF TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL

159. 35 Shots Of Rum **
160. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 3-D ***/
161. The Informant *** (great score)
162. 9 (animated film) ** 1/2
163. Surrogates (Bruce Willis sci-fier) * 1/2
164. Fame (2009) *
165. My One and Only (Renee Zellwegger) ** 1/2
166. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell * 1/2
167. Zombieland ***
168. Whip It (Drew Barrymore roller derby) **
169. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D ****
170. Where The Wild Things Are *** 1/2
171. Amelia *
171. Bronson * 1/2
172. This Is It **
173. The Maid ***
174. Paranormal Activity **
175. A Christmas Carol 3-D (2009) **
176. 2012 **
177. Pirate Radio * 1/2
178. The Courtship Of Andy Hardy (1942) *
179. Girl Crazy (1943) * flimsy Mickey-Judy musical but Judy does a melting "But Not For Me"
180. The Exiles (1961) (on DVD) *** (mostly for cinematography)
181. Planet 51 *
182. The Twilight Saga: New Moon * 1/2
183. The Blind Side **
184. Ninja Assassin *
185. Fantastic Mr. Fox ** 1/2
186. Uncertainty (with JGL) **
187. Brothers (w Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal) **
188. Before Tomorrow (Inuit film) **
189. The Last Station **
190. Me And Orson Welles **
191. The Princess And The Frog ** 1/2
192. Invictus * 1/2
193. House Of Fear (Sherlock Holmes 1945) **
194. Avatar *
195. Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel * 1/2
196. Sherlock Holmes ** 1/2
197. Angels & Demons **
198. It's Complicated **
199. Nine **


BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS

1. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell *** for story/* for ugliness
2. Gaudy Nights (Lord Peter Wimsey) by Dorothy L. Sayers ****
3. Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey) by Dorothy L. Sayers ****
4. Lincoln by James M McPherson ** 1/2
5. Ackroyd's Brief Lives: Newton by Peter Ackroyd ** 1/2
6. Anne Of The Island by L.M. Montgomery ** 1/2
7. The Torre Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci ** 1/2
8. Anne Of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery ** 1/2
9. Anne's House Of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery ** 1/2
10. Anne Of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery ***
11. No. 1 Ladies Detctive Agency by Alexander McCall Smih ***
12. Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie ****
13. The Vast Fields Of Ordinary by Nck Burd (teen gay) **
14. The First Wave (Billy Boyle WW II mystery) by James R Benn ** 1/2
15. Dangerous Laughter by Stephen Millhauser ****
16. The Siege by Ismail Kadare ***
17. Drown by Junot Diaz *** 1/2
18. The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela *** 1/2
19. Death Of A Red Heroine (Inspector Chen mystery) by Qiu Xialong ***
20. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman **
21. The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate ***
22. We Wish To Inform You... by Philip Gourevitch ****
23. Push by Sapphire ** 1/2
24. Taking Woodstock by Eliot Tiber with Tom Monte ** 1/2
25. Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska ** 1/2
26. Mussolini by Denis Mack Smith ***
27. Keats by Andrew Motion ***
28. Seven Rivers West by Edward Hoagland ***
29. My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell ****
30. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov ****
31. West With The Night by Beryl Markham *** 1/2
32. Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo * 1/2
33. The Assassination Of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen *** 1/2
34. The French Admiral (Alan Lewrie series) by Dewey Lambdin ***
35. A-Rod: The Many Lives Of Alex Rodriguez by Selena Roberts **
36. The Awakening by Kate Chopin *** 1/2
37. Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery *** 1/2
38. Rilla Of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery ***
39. The Member Of The Wedding by Carson McCullers *** 1/2
40. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery ****
41. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg ***
42. Hans Brinker, Or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge ***\
43. A Passionate Prodigality by Guy Chapman *** 1/2
44. The King's Privateer by Dewey Lambdin, an Alan Lewrie adventure ***
45. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery ****
46. The Ground Truth by John Farmer ** 1/2
47. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead *** 1/2
48. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ***
49. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins ***
50. The Vampire Diaries: Awakening by L.J. Smith *
51. Up In The Air by Walter Kirn ** 1/2
52. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood ***
53. The Deep Blue Goodby by John D. MacDonald *** 1/2
54. The Virginian by Owen Wister ****
55. The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell *** 1/2
56. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg ** 1/2
57. Blood Alone by James Benn ***
58. The Complete Bone by Jeff Smith *** 1/2
59. The Siege Of Krishnapur by JG Farrell *** 1/2
60. Ragtime by EL Doctorow ****
61. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin *** 1/2
62. Butcher's Crossing by John Williams *** 1/2
62. Go Saddle The Sea by Joan Aiken ** 1/2
63. Bridle The Wind by Joan Aiken **
64. The Teeth Of The Gale by Joan Aiken ***
65. Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb *** 1/2
66. No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon ***
67. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti *** 1/2
68. Stupid, Stupid Rat Tales by Jeff Smith et al **
69. 21 by Patrick O'Brian ***
70. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad ****
71. Out Stealing Horses by Pers Petersen *** 1/2
72. Genius For Deception by Nicholas Rankin ***


THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS THEATER CONCERTS

1. Pal Joey at Roundabout w Stockard Channing **
2. England (two-hander in art museum) ** 1/2
3. Shipment *** (great cast)
4. The Cherry Orchard at BAM ***
5. The Third Story (w Kathleen Turner and Charles Busch) ** 1/2
6. Disfarmer at St. Ann's Warehouse **
7. Othello (off Bway on 42md St. -- solid, but convincing which it rarely is) ***
8. A Winter's Tale at BAM *** 1/2 (nearly perfect)
9. Hedda Gabler with Mary Louise Parker and Michael Cerveris -- no stars
10. Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Bway revival) ** (but Roger Robinson ****)
11. Hamlet (w Christian Camargo; TFANA off bway) ***
12. The Norman Conquests *** (sterling cast)
13. Ruined (at City Center) *** 1/2
14. The Good Negro (at Public) ***
15. Mary Stuart (w Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter/Vane) ***
16. Next To Normal (at Booth) **
17. The Singing Forest (Craig Lucas at Public) * 1/2
18. West Side Story (Bway revival) ***
19. The Who's Tommy (at Gallery Players) *
20. War Horse (in the West End) ***
21. A Little Night Music (Chocolate Factory revival on West End Garrick) *** 1/2
22. Peter Pan (outdoor under tent in Kensington Gardens) * 1/2
23. England People Very Nice (at National) ***
24. On The Beach (one of two-part The Contingency Plan at Bush on global warming) ***
25. Death and the King's Horseman (revival at National) *** 1/2
26. Goran Bregovic and His Weddings & Funerals Orchestra in Prospect Park in Brookly with thousands of Serbs and Croats ****
27. Things With Dry Hours ** 1/2 (but strong cast incl Delroy Lindo)
28. Othello w Philip Seymour Hoffman, directed by Peter Sellars *
29. Hamlet with Jude Law ** 1/2
30. The New Electric Ballroom ***
31. Finian's Rainbow (Bway revival) *
32. Emperor Jones (Off bway revival) ***
33. BBQ In Kansas City: Arthur Bryant's *** (great decor, burnt tips, fries); Gates (poor decor but solid food all around) *** 1/2; Oklahoma Joe's (funky gas station but food unremarkable) **; LC's (best all-around, funky space, great food)
34. Negro League Baseball Museum *** (great stories but mostly just a lot of text); Jazz Museum ** 1/2 (poorly set-up and not nearly as fun as it should be
35. Ragtime ** 1/2 (Bway revival; liked everything but the score)
36. Kronos Quartet Wu Man at Zankel Hall of Carnegie *** (lots of technical problems)
37. Idiot Savant -- Richard Foreman play with Willem DaFoe **
38. A Streetcar Named Desire at BAM w Cate Blanchett ***
39. The Brother-Sister Plays Part I: In The Red And Brown Water *** 1/2
40. The Brother-Sister Plays Part II: The Brothers Size ***
41. The Brother-Sister Plays Part III: Marcus, Or The Secret Of Sweet ** 1/2
42. Fela! on Bway with sub lead ** 1/2 but great choreography and would be fun with original lead
43. Brief Encounter at St. Ann's ***



CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS CDS (Only the Cds I've listened to thoroughly and with a strong emphasis on the ones I like, so don't think I love everything I listen to -- I just don't bother really listening to the ones I don't like more than once and don't think it's fair to rate on a cursory listen)

1. Fleet Foxes -- Fleet Foxes ****
2. Elvin Bishop -- The Blues Rolls On ** 1/2
3. David Vandervelde -- Waiting For The Sunrise **
4. Lindsey Buckingham -- Gift Of Screws ** 1/2
5. Adele -- 19 ** 1/2
6. Various Artists -- The Baseball Project ** 1/2
7. King Wilkie -- Low Country Suite **
8. Mercury Rev -- Snowflake Midnight **
9. Various Artists -- New Orleans Funk Vol. 2 *** 1/2
10. The Wood Brothers -- Loaded **
11. British Sea Power -- Do You Like Rock Music? **
12. Brendan James -- The Day Is Brave *** (especially song "Green")
13. Sigur Ros -- Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endaluast ** 1/2
14. Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson -- Two Men With The Blues ****
15. Corey Chisel -- Cabin Ghosts EP ***
16. Bill Henderson -- Beautiful Memory: Live At The Vic *** 1/2
17. The Hush Sound -- Goodbye Blues ** 1/2
18. Catfish Haven -- Devastator **
19. Sierra Hull -- Secrets ** 1/2
20. Rhonda Vincent -- Good Thing Going ***
21. 10cc -- Sheet Music ** 1/2
22. Lizz Wright -- The Orchard ***
23. Rodney Crowell -- Sex and Gasoline *** 1/2
24. Van Dyke Parks -- Discover America ***
25. Bob Dylan -- New Morning ** 1/2
26. Bob Dylan -- Before The Flood *** 1/2
27. Bob Dylan -- Through This Life ***
28. Nanci Griffith -- The Loving Kind **
29. Charles Mingus -- Tijuana Moods ***
30. Neil Young -- After The Goldrush (remastered) ****
31. Regina Spektor -- Far *** 1/2
32. Rosanne Cash -- The List ***/
33. Ben Kweller -- Changing Horses ***
34. Neil Young-- Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere *** 1/2
35. Willie Nelson -- Naked ** 1/2
36. Willie Nelson -- Willie and The Wheel ***
37. Willie Nelson -- American Classic *** 1/2
38. Whiskeytown -- Strangers Almanac *** 1/2
39. Madeleine Peyroux -- Bare Bones *** 1/2
40. Joni Mitchell -- The Hissing Of Summer Lawns *** 1/2
41. Pearl Jam -- Ten remastered ***
42. Kelly Clarkson -- All I Ever Wanted **
43. M. Ward -- Hold Time *** 1/2
44. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs -- Under The Covers Vol. 2 *** 1/2
45. Randy Travis -- Ultimate Hits ** 1/2
46. Conor Oberst -- Conor Oberst ***/
47. Diana Jones -- Better Times Will Come ** 1/2
48. Dean Martin -- Country Style/Rides Again two-fer **
49. Neil Young -- Neil Young (remastered) *** 1/2
50. The Beatles Mono Boxed Set **** out of **** (but really *************!!)
51. Bobby Long -- Dirty Pond Songs **
52. The Dells Sing Dionne Warwick **
53. Prefab Sprout -- Let's Change The World With Music *** 1/2
54. Peggy Lee -- The Man I Love ***
55. The Duke and the King -- Duke and the King *
56. Elvis Costello -- Sugar Cane ***
57. Assembly Of Dust -- Some Assembly Required ** 1/2
58. Bobby Long -- Dirty Pond Songs *
59. Sondra Lerche -- Heartbeat Radio ** 1/2
60. M'shell Ndegeocello -- Devil's Halo ***
61. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- Speed Of Life ** 1/2
62. Paolo Nutini -- Sunny Side Up **
63. Patrick Watson -- Wooden Arms **
64. Pentangle -- Basket Of Light ***/
65. Phoenix -- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix ***
66. Steep Canyon Rangers -- Deep In The Shade ***
67. 7 Worlds Collide -- The Sun Came Out ***
68. Willis Alan Ramsey -- Willis Alan Ramsey *** 1/2
69. Vicki Emerson -- Long Ride **
70. Black Hollies -- Softly Towards The Light ***/
71. Frankie Negron -- Independence Day * 1/2
72. Elliott Brood -- Mountain Meadows ***/
73. James Hand -- Shadow On The Ground *** 1/2
74. Green Day -- 21st Century Breakdown *** 1/2
75. Ray Davies -- The Kinks Choral ***
76. The Family Force 5 * 1/2
77. Claire Lynch -- Whatcha Gonna Do ***
78. Black Crowes -- Before The Frost...Until The Freeze *** 1/2
79. Maxwell -- BLACKsummernights *** 1/2
80. Madness -- The Liberty Of Norton Folgate ** 1/2
81. Marshall Crenshaw -- Jaggedland ** 1/2
82. Kristina Train -- Spilled Milk *** 1/2
83. Best Of Fela Kuti ****
84. The Flatlanders -- Hills & Valleys ***
85. Ghost Is Dancing -- Battles on **
86. Gov't Mule -- By A Thread *
87. The Hot Club Of San Francisco -- Hot Club Cool Yule * 1/2
88. Hugh Masekala -- Phola *
89. Iron And Wine -- Around The Well ** 1/2
90. John Fogerty -- Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again ***
91. John Garrison -- Departures * 1/2
92. Various Artists -- Ciao My Shining Star: The Music Of Mark Mulcahy ***
93. Tori Amos -- Midwinter Graces *** 1/2
94. They Might Be Giants -- Here Comes Science ***
95. Sarah Lee Guthrie -- Go Waggaloo * 1/2
96. The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You *** 1/2
97. Super Furry Animals -- Dark Days ** 1/2
98. Various Artists -- Panama Vol 1 ** 1/2
99. Grizzly Bear -- Veckatimest ** 1/2
100. Brad Paisley -- American Saturday Night *** 1/2
101. Lyle Lovett -- Natural Forces ***/
102. Norah Jones -- The Fall ** 1/2
103. Kristen Chenoweth -- A Lively Way To Spend Christmas * 1/2
104. Allen Toussaint -- Bright Mississippi *** 1/2
105. Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam -- Coming Up For Air ** 1/2
106. Neko Case -- Middle Cyclone ***
107. Jay-Z -- The Blueprint 3 ***/
108. John Scofield -- Piety Street ***
109. U2 -- No Line On The Horizon ** 1/2
110. Bruce Springsteen -- Working On A Dream ** 1/2
111. Volcano Choir -- Unmap * 1/2
112. Animal Collective -- Meriweather Post Pavilion ***
113. Tom Russell -- Blood and Candle Smoke **
114. Bill Callahan -- Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle * 1/2
115. Alex McMurray -- How To Be A Cannonball ***
116. Jesse Winchester -- Love Filling Station *** 1/2
117. AA Bondy -- When The Devil's Loose ** 1/2
118. Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens -- What Have You Done. My Brother? ***
119. Miranda Lambert -- Revolution *** 1/2
120. John Stewart -- California Bloodlines *** 1/2
121. Rosemary Clooney -- Love *** 1/2/
122. Mika -- The Boy Who Knew Too Much *** 1/2
123. Wilco -- (the album) ***


Updated December 31, 2009.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two new profiles of Broadway stars

Two new features to enjoy. A profile of Tony winner Jim Norton of Finian's Rainbow and a profile of future Tony winner Bobby Steggert of Ragtime. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Popsurfing Radio Show Playlist: Family (12-11-09)

Here's the playlist for my latest Popsurfing radio show. It airs weekly on WEFT Champaign 90.1 fm on Thursday night/Friday morning from 1 am to 3 am. You can stream it live online at weft.org.

You can download the episode on iTunes. Enjoy!

Wanna make a request? Here are some potential themes for upcoming shows. Feel free to email me with a request for one of your favorite songs that fits the theme and I'll try to fit it in.

POPSURFING -- THEMES FOR UPCOMING SHOWS


December 17 -- holiday music
December 24 -- holiday music
December 31 -- drinking

PLAYLIST FOR FAMILY (airdate: 12-11-2009)

HOUR ONE

Perry Como “Papa Loves Mambo” from Two Family House

Vic Mizzy “The Addams Family (Theme)” from TV Guide 50 All-Time Favorite Themes

Adrian Belew “Oh Daddy” from Mr. Music Head

Paul Simon “Mother And Child Reunion” from Paul Simon

Bill Withers “Grandma's Hands” from Lean On Me: The Best Of Bill Withers

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Grandpa Was A Carpenter” from Will The Circle Be Unbroken Trilogy

Jill Scott “Family Reunion” from Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 2

Steely Dan “Babylon Sisters” from Gaucho

Dave Van Ronk “Sister Kate” from Two Sides Of Dave Van Ronk

The Smiths “Shakespeare's Sister” from The Sound Of The Smiths

Amanda Palmer “Runs In The Family” from Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

Brian Wilson “Child Is The Father Of The Man” from Smile

Lorraine Ellison “Sister Love” from Sister Love: The Warner Bros. Recordings

Carly Simon “Older Sister” from Carly Simon Anthology

Sufjan Stevens “Decatur, Or Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother” from Come On Feel The Illinoise!

Kris Kristofferson “Sister Sinead” from Closer to the Bone

Sinéad O'Connor “This Is To Mother You” from Gospel Oak

HOUR TWO

The Louvin Brothers “The Family Who Prays” from Jesus' Son Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Fountains Of Wayne “Stacy's Mom” from Welcome Interstate Managers

John Hiatt “Your Dad Did” from Bring The Family

Loretta Lynn “Family Tree” from Van Lear Rose

The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little Susie” from The Definitive Pop Collection

Kate & Anna McGarrigle “Kitty, Come Home” from Dancer With Bruised Knees

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Will The Circle Be Unbroken Trilogy” from Will The Circle Be Unbroken Trilogy

Rosanne Cash “Motherless Children” from The List

Ernie K-Doe “Mother-In-Law” from Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans

RZA “Blood Thicker Than Mud "Family Affair"” from Afro Samurai: Resurrection

Langston Hughes “Mother To Son” from Poetry Speaks

Allen Toussaint “Soul Sister” from Life, Love And Faith

The Housemartins “He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother” from Now That's What I Call Quite Good

Woody Herman & His Orchestra “Four Brothers” from Blowin' Up A Storm: The Columbia Years 1945-1947

Rufus Wainwright “Little Sister” from Want Two

Lyle Lovett “Family Reserve” from Joshua Judges Ruth

HOUR THREE

Hank Williams “My Son Calls Another Man Daddy” from Hank Williams 40 Greatest Hits

Leonard Cohen “Sisters Of Mercy” from Songs Of Leonard Cohen

The Singing Nun “Dominique” from Dominique: The Singing Nun

Sister Rosetta Tharpe “Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air” from Red, White & Blues

Sister Gertrude Morgan “If You Live Like Jesus Told You” from Let's Make A Record

Kanye West “Family Business” from College Dropout

The Beatles “Mother Nature's Son” from The Beatles Mono Box Set

Robert Plant and Allison Kraus “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” from Raising Sand

Peggy Lee “Sisters” from Black Coffee: Best Of Decca Years

Nick Drake “Poor Mum” from Family Tree

Nino Rota “The Godfather Waltz” from The Godfather

Was, Not Was “Dad, I'm In Jail” from What Up, Dog?

The Smothers Brothers “My Old Man (live)” from The Folk Years: Yesterday's Gone

They Might Be Giants “My Brother, The Ape” from Here Comes Science

Horace Silver “Song For My Father” from Song For My Father

Antony & The Johnsons “You Are My Sister” from I Am A Bird Now

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Books A Gazillion: The Sample
















It's quite hard to even GET info for what books are coming out each week, which makes doing a sample pick kind of bizarrely hard to do.

But here's February 22. These are not necessarily my top picks because I don't really have access to all the books coming out that week. So it's just an example of how it would work, not a genuine pick for that week. Also, of course, this has no resemblance to the layout. All you're getting here are the covers followed by the text that would go with them.

FEBRUARY 22, 2011

THE TOP PICKS OF THE WEEK

WEST OF HERE BY JONATHAN EVISON
$24.95 hardcover
$26.37 audio
$9.99 e-book
496 pages; Algonquin

Our decree: Author James Evison made a name for himself with his debut novel All About Lulu. Now he leaps into the front ranks with this meaty historical epic that jumps back and forth from the late 1800s to 2006. At the heart of the tale is a dam west of Seattle: in one half of the book settlers build the dam to help their world flourish; in the other half people eagerly await its demolition. The canvas is vast -- covering everything from brothels and indigenous Americans (the luckless Klallam) to an ex-con and a drudge in a fish processing factory obsessed with Bigfoot -- and Evison looks up to the task. Could be one of the break-outs of the year.

From the publisher: Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington State’s rugged Pacific coast, West of Here is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale. With one segment of the narrative focused on the town’s founders circa 1890 and another showing the lives of their descendants in 2006, the novel develops as a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.

An exposition on the effects of time, on how something said or done in one generation keeps echoing through all the years that follow, and how mistakes keep happening and people keep on trying to be strong and brave and, most important, just and right, West of Here harks back to the work of such masters of Americana as Bret Harte, Edna Ferber, and Larry McMurtry, writers whose fiction turned history into myth and myth into a nation’s shared experience. It is a bold novel by a writer destined to become a major force in American literature.

About the author: Jonathan Evison is the author of All About Lulu, which won the Washington State Book Award. In 2009, he was the recipient of a Richard Buckley Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He lives on an island in Western Washington.


FINAL JEOPARDY: MAN VS MACHINE AND THE QUEST TO KNOW EVERYTHING BY STEPHEN BAKER
$24.00 hardcover
$9.99 e-book
288 pages; Houghton Mifflin

Our decree: Hot on the heels of the game show face off on Jeopardy between two past (human) champs and Watson (the computer upstart) comes this highly entertaining look at the IBM team focused on developing a computer program that is more human than human. In the spirit of Tracy Kidder's The Soul of A New Machine, this isn't just a dry look at the state of the art in the digital realm but a fascinating look at the personalities involved and thought-provoking insights into what it means to be human. One amusing highlight is an annual contest between humans and computers where the author finds himself determined to convince online judges that he really is human and not just a simulation. Happily, Baker is crowned the Most Human Human at that event (beating out three other flesh and blood competitors for the honor). He brings the same humanity to create a very enjoyable look at artificial intelligence leavened with genuine intelligence and charm.

From the publisher: What if there were a computer that could answer virtually any question? IBM engineers are developing such a machine, teaching it to compete on the quiz show Jeopardy. Early next year, it will face off in a nationally televised match against two of the game’s greatest all-time winners, possibly including Ken Jennings. Stephen Baker’s Final Jeopardy carries readers on a captivating journey from the IBM labs to the showdown in Hollywood. The story features brilliant Ph.D.s, Hollywood moguls, knowledge-obsessed Jeopardy masters — and a very special collection of silicon and circuitry named Watson. It is a classic match of Man vs. Machine, not seen since Deep Blue bested chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. But Watson will need to do more than churn through chess moves or find a relevant web page. It will have to understand language, including puns and irony, and master everything from history and literature to science, arts, and entertainment. At its heart, Final Jeopardy is about the future of knowledge. What can we teach machines? What will Watson’s heirs be capable of in ten or twenty years? And where does that leave humans? What will we need to know? As fast and fun as the game itself, Final Jeopardy shows how smart machines will fit into our world — and how they’ll disrupt it.


TOWNIE: A MEMOIR BY ANDRE DUBUS III
$25.95 hardcover
$29.95 audio
$12.84 e-book
400 pages; WW Norton & Company

Our decree: Some writers turn to brawling and boxing to prove they're real men despite a penchant for literary doings. Think Hemingway and Mailer. Others -- like Andre Dubus III - turn to writing because violence threatens to overwhelm them and they know real men don't need to draw blood. So, the best-selling author of the acclaimed novel House Of Sand And Fog turns to the memoir with two-fisted delight. Dubus details how his father and fellow writer left the family in near poverty. Dubus reacted not by diving into books but diving into fights, keeping his honor intact and his anger razor sharp with brutal brawls all throughout his teenage years in a small Massachusetts mill town. Already garnering great advance reviews.

From the publisher: An acclaimed novelist reflects on his violent past and a lifestyle that threatened to destroy him—until he was saved by writing. After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn’t have been more stark—or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself. His memoir is a riveting, visceral, profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love.

About the author: Andre Dubus III is the author of Townie, The Garden of Last Days and House of Sand and Fog (an Oprah Book Club pick and a finalist for the National Book Award). He lives with his family north of Boston.


BASEBALL PROSPECTUS 2011
$24.95 paperback
e-book not available
600 pages; Wiley

Our decree:
Fantasy baseball fans have found this annual stats-fest an indispensable part of their draft strategy. This is the 16th edition of Baseball Prospectus and if the name Bill James makes you as starry-eyed as Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe then you already want it. Their branded PECOTA system -- which projects a player's stats for the coming season -- is the niftiest spin on slicing and dicing statistics. But it also includes fresh essays on every team and analysis of the managers, players and prospects. Play (fantasy) ball? Not without this.

From the Publisher: The bestselling annual baseball preview from the smartest analysts in the business. The essential guide to the 2011 baseball season is on deck now, and whether you're a fan or fantasy player—or both—you won't be properly informed without it. Baseball Prospectus 2011 brings together an elite group of analysts to provide the definitive look at the upcoming season in critical essays and commentary on the thirty teams, their managers, and more than sixty players and prospects from each team.

TREACHERY IN DEATH BY JD ROBB
$26.95 hardcover
$7.99 paperback
$12.99 e-book

Our decree: It's easy to take the prolific Nora Roberts for granted. She's never suffered from writer's block -- if anything, she suffers from writer's blockbuster, an ability to churn out so many bestsellers that no one has a chance to get a handle on her talent. Stephen King had the same problem for many years. Roberts may never equal his critical acclaim but her mash-up of romance and mystery via the "In Death" series is clever and this entry is receiving some of the best buzz in ages.

From the publisher: Detective Eve Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are following up on a senseless crime-an elderly grocery owner killed by three stoned punks for nothing more than kicks and snacks. This is Peabody's first case as primary detective-good thing she learned from the master. But Peabody soon stumbles upon a trickier situation. After a hard workout, she's all alone in the locker room when the gym door clatters open; and-while hiding inside a shower stall trying not to make a sound-she overhears two fellow officers, Garnet and Oberman, arguing. It doesn't take long to realize they're both crooked-guilty not just of corruption but of murder. Now Peabody, Eve, and Eve's husband, Roarke, are trying to get the hard evidence they need to bring the dirty cops down-knowing all the while that the two are willing to kill to keep their secret.

About the author: The In Death books are perpetual bestsellers, and frequently share the bestseller list with other Nora Roberts novels. J. D. Robb publishes two hardcover In Death books per year, with the occasional stand-alone original In Death story featured in an anthology. Thirty books and fifteen years later, there is no end in sight for the ever-popular In Death series.

AND I SHALL HAVE SOME PEACE THERE BY MARGARET ROACH
$25.99 hardcover
$12.99 ebook
272 pages; Grand Central Publishing

Our decree:
Margaret Roach is well known for her acclaimed books on gardening as well as her work with Martha Stewart in many capacities. A Way To Garden alone made her name among the green-thumbed set. But Roach decided the endless whirl of responsibility was not a good thing and gave it all up. She retreated to upstate New York, turning her weekend getaway into her permanent home. This is the memoir of her first year there, a loose-limbed meander through daily trials and tribulations both with nature and her neighbors and herself.

From the book (an excerpt): "I was a 'big success,' people told me, but the secret I never spoke in reply or anytime was my belief that I had long ago given up on me—the one whom others, in equations of family, love, and work, relied upon—choosing the easy route over a path toward things they don’t necessarily pay you or pat you on the back for….

"If I was so successful, I wanted to say back to my best friend and my accountant and the guy who cuts my hair and everyone else lovingly offering praise all those years, then why had I pushpinned a cryptic note to myself on the kitchen wall, a plaintive shorthand list called ‘Tolerances,’ as in, how much can you tolerate of what for how long? Why were all my years-old diaries aching with phrases like the hit-by-car feelings of my workday and Where is my creativity? and that clincher, Who or what am I waiting for?"

About the author: Margaret Roach is the former garden editor of Newsday newspaper, and her 30-plus-year former career also included an editing stint at the New York Times. Today Roach lecture and teach about what she call "horticultural how-to and woo-woo," and help clients create websites on the WordPress platform. She can be found online at awaytogarden.com, the gardening blog called the best of the bunch by the New York Times.


NEMESIS BY MARK MILLAR (AUTHOR) AND STEVE MCNIVEN (ILLUSTRATIONS)
$19.99 hardcover 112 pages; Marvel

Our decree: The first four issues in the Nemesis comic book series are brought together in this single volume. Mark Millar alone should be enough to draw you in: he's the creator of Civil War (a defining Marvel miniseries), not to mention hot properties like Wanted (turned into a so-so film starring Angelina Jolie) and Kick-Ass (turned into a hyper-violent and very funny movie co-starring Nicolas Cage). In this series, he's scrubbed the world clean of super heroes and super villains -- except for one, Nemesis, a Batman-like baddie who goes one on one against the world's greatest cop. For those who want to stay on top of the best in comics without trooping to their local store every week, this is a must have.

From the publisher: CIVIL WAR? Nothing. KICK-ASS? A warmup. What if the smartest, toughest costumed bad ass in the world was totally evil? Meet Nemesis. He's systematically been destroying the lives of every police chief in Asia, and he's now set his sights on Washington, DC. Between you and me, the police don't have a chance. Do not miss the book that EVERYONE will be talking about by the creative team that made CIVIL WAR the biggest book of the decade.

About the author: Mark Millar is one of comics' most commercially successful writers, his work includes Kick-Ass, Wanted, Nemesis and the bestselling Civil War and The Ultimates. Steve McNiven, Canadian comic book artist, gained his fame working on Marvel Knights 4, Ultimate Secret and New Avengers. Nemesis is his 3rd team-up with Mark Millar.


MGM: HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST BACKLOT BY STEVEN BINGEN ET AL
$34.95 hardcover 312 pages; Santa Monica Press

Our decree: If you just want an offbeat coffee-table book about Hollywood, this focus on MGM's backlot is ideal. But if you're a genuine movie buff and want some substance along with your photos, the text by Steven Bingen et al is absorbing. They cover MGM's backlot -- a world unto itself -- seemingly block by block, uncovering fascinating detail and bringing a fresh perspective on the art of moviemaking. Catnip for casual fans of Hollywood's glory days.

From the publisher: Going behind the scenes at one of Hollywood’s greatest movie studios, this extraordinary history reveals the untold story of the soundstages and outdoor sets where many of the world’s greatest films were produced. Featuring candid, previously unpublished photographs from the studio’s archives and exclusive interviews with actors and staff, this detailed exploration of MGM’s backlot—the setting for more than a fifth of the films produced prior to 1980—takes film buffs back to Hollywood’s golden age, offering an insider’s look at the movie business and celebrating many of its best films and the leading actors of the studio system. Today, when a film set can be anywhere at anytime, this treasure trove of information reveals the creativity and ingenuity of a bygone era when the studio system, coping with the limitations of space and technology, produced screen gems such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and the Our Gang shorts.


21 DAY WEIGHT-LOSS KICKSTART BY NEAL D. BARNARD MD
$25.99 hardcover $12.99 ebook 368 pages; Grand Central Life & Style

Our decree: Dr. Barnard continues his vegan proselytizing with this approach to a whole new life. No dieting as such: just smart cooking done at home with delicious fresh ingredients. Frankly, almost any lifestyle change that involves cooking with fresh ingredients (vegan or no) will dramatically improve your health versus feasting on processed foods and take-out. But Barnard -- seen on PBS regularly -- certainly makes the vegan life look tasty. With loads of celebrity and medical endorsements, he's certain to win over a few converts. Even if, like us, you enjoy a good steak, much in here can be savored.

From the publisher: For years, Dr. Neal D. Barnard has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research on what it really takes to lose weight and restore the body to optimal health. Now, with his proven, successful program, in just three short weeks you'll get fast results -- drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood sugar, and more. With Dr. Barnard's advice on how to easily start a plant-based diet, you'll learn the secrets to reprogramming your body quickly.

About the author: Neal Barnard, MD is a clinical researcher, author, and health advocate. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and president of the nonprofit Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. He has been the principal investigator or coinvestigator on several clinical trials investigating the effects of diet on health. He is the author of several books and a frequent lecturer.


GEORGE CONDO: MENTAL STATES
$50,00 hardcover
168pages; Hayward Publishing

Our decree:
A long overdue career retrospective of the provocative painter, sculptor and artist who has popped up everywhere from Andy Warhol's Factory to the world of Basquiat and Keith Haring and multiple Biennials to album covers for Kanye West and Phish.

From the publisher: Painter and sculptor George Condo (born 1957) has inhabited a broad swath of cultural contexts over his three-decade career, from the early-1980s East Village scene to a collaboration with William Burroughs to making album cover art for Phish and, most recently, Kanye West. Early in his career, Condo was friendly with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring and briefly worked at Andy Warhol's Factory. Having been included in the Whitney Biennial in 1987, by 2010 he was once again judged so original that a bronze sculpture of his was placed in that year's Biennial. Condo's loose, imaginative approach to portraiture has distinguished him throughout the decades: "There was a time when I realized that the central focal point of portraiture did not have to be representational in any way," he said in 1992. "You don't need to paint the body to show the truth about a character. All you need is the head and the hands." George Condo: Mental States surveys the artist's career from 1982 to the present day, focusing on his portrait paintings but also including a selection of sculptural busts made in materials such as gold and bronze. Organized by theme, and including 100 images of artworks in addition to writings by Will Self, David Means, Ralph Rugoff and Laura Hoptman, this volume explores Condo's relationship to art history, popular culture and contemporary society.

About the author: Ralph Rugoff is Director of the Hayward Gallery, London. Laura Hoptman is Senior Curator at the New Museum, New York. Will Self is a British writer whose books include My Idea of Fun (1993), Great Apes (1997), How the Dead Live (2000) and The Book of Dave (2007). David Means is an American writer, author of the short story collections Assorted Fire Events: Stories (2003) and The Secret Goldfish (2004).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Popsurfing Radio Show Playlist: Thanks (11-27-09)

Here's the playlist for my latest Popsurfing radio show. It airs weekly on WEFT Champaign 90.1 fm on Thursday night/Friday morning from 1 am to 3 am. You can stream it live online at weft.org.

You can download the episode on iTunes. Enjoy!

Wanna make a request? Here are some potential themes for upcoming shows. Feel free to email me with a request for one of your favorite songs that fits the theme and I'll try to fit it in.

POPSURFING -- THEMES FOR UPCOMING SHOWS

December 3 -- hard times
December 10 -- family (parents, kids, brothers and sisters, in-laws)
December 17 -- sleep, the night (because we'll be putting the year to rest soon)
December 24 -- holiday music
December 31 -- drinking

PLAYLIST FOR THANKS (airdate: 11-27-2009)

HOUR ONE

1. Solomon Burke “Thank You” from Like A Fire

2. Monologue -- Is it too late to say thanks? Quote from Edward Sandford Martin

3. Marion Williams “Lord I Thank You” from The Gospel Soul Of Marion Williams

4. Audio clip -- Car rental phone chat from Planes, Trains & Automobiles

5. The Beatles “Thank You Girl” from Mono Masters, Volume One

6. The Flatlanders “Thank God For The Road” from Hills and Valleys

7. Monologue -- How to say thanks in various languages

8. Peanut “Thank Goodness For The Rain” from One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found

9. Neil Diamond “Thank The Lord For The Night Time” from In My Lifetime

10. Angie Stone “I Wanna Thank Ya” from Stone Hits: The Very Best Of Angie Stone

11. Cadillac Sky “Thank You Esteban” from Gravity's Our Enemy

12. Monologue -- Public Service Announcement for Women In Transition

13. Alanis Morissette “Thank You” from Alanis Morissette -- The Collection

14. Buddy Jewell “I Wanna Thank Everyone” from Buddy Jewell

15. Janis Ian “Thankyous” from Best Of Janis Ian -- The Autobiography Collection

16. William DeVaughn “Be Thankful For What You Got” from Can You Dig It? The 70s Soul Experience

17. Monologue -- Buddy Jewel is one lucky son of a gun

18. Maysa “Grateful” from Metamorphosis

19. Teddy Thompson “Thanks A Lot” from Teddy Thompson

20. Audio clip -- picky eater at Thanksgiving dinner from Home For The Holidays

21. George Winston “Thanksgiving” from December

HOUR TWO

22. Bing Crosby “Thanks” from The Aviator Soundtrack

23. Monologue -- How to say thanks in more languages

24. Ray Davies “Thanksgiving Day” from Thanksgiving Day

25. John Denver “Thank God I'm A Country Boy” from Country Roads Collection

26. Audio clip -- Steve Martin says goodbye to John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles

27. Maria McKee “Why Wasn't I More Grateful (When Life Was Sweet)” from You Gotta Sin To Be Saved

28. Ricky Nelson “Thank You Lord” from Ricky Nelson -- Legacy

29. John Hiatt “Thank You Girl” from Bring The Family

30. Audio clip -- Charles Durning gives Thanksgiving blessing in Home For The Holidays


31. Fairport Convention “Now Be Thankful” from Watching The Dark: The History Of Richard Thompson

32. Monologue -- Public Service Announcement for Homeless Shelter

33. Sinéad O'Connor “Thank You For Hearing Me” from Universal Mother

34. My Morning Jacket “Thank You Too!” from Evil Urges

35. Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart “Thanks For Sunday” from I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite: The Best Of Boyce & Hart

36. Monologue -- the brush off; reading of "No, Thank You John" by Christina Rossetti

37. Lizz Wright “Thank You” from The Orchard

38. Tito Puente “Lucky Dog” from The Best Of Tito Puente: El Rey de Timbal!

39. Sly & The Family Stone “Thankful N Thoughtful” from Fresh

40. Merle Haggard "Thanks To Uncle John" from If I Could Only Fly

HOUR THREE

41. Barbara Lewis “Thankful For What I Got” from Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Sisters

42. Monologue --

43. World Party “Thank You World” from Goodbye Jumbo\

44. Audio clip -- Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig saying goodbye in Pride Of The Yankees

45. Mandy Patinkin “Sorry -- Grateful” from Dress Casual

46. Duke Ellington “I'm Just A Lucky So-And-So” from Black, Brown & Beige

47. Monologue -- have you thanked an animal yet? Plot description of scene from Lohengrin

48. Richard Wagner “Num Sei bedankt, mein lieber schwann” from Lohengrin

49. Monologue -- how to say thanks in still more languages

50. Jacqui Naylor “Thank You, Baby” from Smashed For The Holidays

51. Talking Heads “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” from More Songs About Buildings And Food

52. Me'Shell Ndegeocello “Thankful” from Comfort Woman

53. Audio clip -- Charles Mingus calling himself lucky and blessed from Joni Mitchell's CD Mingus

54. Bob Hope & Shirley Ross “Thanks For The Memory” from Academy Award Winning Songs 1934-1993

55. Monologue -- what am I thankful for? A list

56. Candi Staton “The Thanks I Get For Loving You” from Candi Staton

57. The Swan Silvertones “Thank You Jesus And I Have A Friend” from When Gospel Was Gospel

58. The Hollow Men “Thanks To The Rolling Sea” from The Last Temptation Of Elvis

59. ABBA “Thank You For The Music” from ABBA Gold

60. Monologue -- show thanks by having fun; a reading of Ogden Nash's "No Doctors Today, Thank You"

61. John Mellencamp “Thank You” from Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits

62. Audio clip -- Nancy Lamott saying thanks at the end of her concert from the CD Live At Tavern On The Green

63. Kaiser Chiefs “Thank You Very Much” from Yours Truly, Angry Mob

Friday, November 27, 2009

North South East WEFT Playlist 11-27-09

Here is the playlist for the world music show I hosted for John on WEFT.

Buffy Saint-Marie -- “No No Keshagesh” from Running For The Drum

Cyril Pahinui -- “Hawaiian Cowboy” from Night Moon

Growling Tiger -- “Senorita Panchita” from Alan Lomax Collection Sampler

Cyprus Smith -- “Sambo Caesar (Caribbean)” from Alan Lomax Collection Sampler

Growling Tiger -- “War (Caribbean)” from Alan Lomax Collection Sampler

Augustus Pablo -- “Stop There Jah” from King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown

The Gaylads -- “Africa” from Studio One Selector

Jackie Mittoo -- “Champion In The Arena” from Champion In The Arena 1976-1977

Forro In the Dark -- “Anao de Jardim” from Light a Candle

Bebel Gilberto -- “Ela (On My Way)” from All In One

Manu Chao -- “Me Gustas Tu” from Proxima Estacion: Esperanza

Caetano Veloso -- “Terra” from Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics 1

Jorge Ben -- “Ponta De Lanca Africano” from Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics 1

Nahini Doumbia & Les Espoirs du Mali -- “Djembeka” from Percussion and Songs From Mali

Baaba Maal -- “Dakar Moon” from Television

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba -- “I Speak Fula” from I Speak Fula

Udokotela Shange Namajaha -- “Awungilobolele” from Indestructible Beat Of Soweto Vol 1

Nelcy Sedibe -- “Holotelani” from The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto Volume One

Maitre Gazonga -- “Les Jaloux Saboteurs” from Golden Afrique Vol 1

Amadou & Mariam -- “M'bife (Balafon)” from Dimanche A Bamako

The Nigerian Police Force Band -- “Asiko Mi Ni” from Nigeria Special: 1970-1976

Bembeya Jazz National -- “Republique Guinee” from The Syliphone Years

Ragheb Alama -- “Ya Bo Ye” from Camelspotting

Amr Diab -- “Nour El Ain” from Camelspotting

Buffy Saint-Marie -- “America The Beautiful” from Running For The Drum

Friday, November 20, 2009

Popsurfing Radio Show Playlist: Rain (11-20-09)

Here's the playlist for my latest Popsurfing radio show. It airs weekly on WEFT Champaign 90.1 fm on Thursday night/Friday morning from 1 am to 3 am. You can stream it live online at weft.org.

You can download the episode on iTunes. Enjoy!

Wanna make a request? Here are some potential themes for upcoming shows. Feel free to email me with a request for one of your favorite songs that fits the theme and I'll try to fit it in.

POPSURFING -- THEMES FOR UPCOMING SHOWS

November 26 -- songs about giving thanks (or songs that refuse to)
December 3 -- hard times
December 10 -- family (parents, kids, brothers and sisters, in-laws)
December 17 -- sleep, the night (because we'll be putting the year to rest soon)
December 24 -- holiday music
December 31 -- drinking

PLAYLIST FOR RAIN (airdate: 11-20-2009)


1. 12:00AM Ink Spots & Ella Fitzgerald “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” from The Singing Detective

2. 12:04AM Mayer Hawthorne “I Wish It Would Rain” from A Strange Arrangement

3. Monologue -- record rainfall in Champaign; wettest spot in the world

4. 12:07AM The Mavericks “Here Comes The Rain” from Music For All Occasions

5. audio clip from film "Rain Man" -- Tom Cruise discusses imaginary friend

6. 12:11AM Somi “If The Rains Come First” from If the Rains Come First

7. 12:14AM B.J. Thomas “Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head” from Burt Bacharach & Friends -- Gold

8. Monologue -- technical difficulties, ringing phone, origin of "raining cats and dogs"

9. 12:17AM Ron Sexsmith “Raindrops In My Coffee” from Sexsmith & Kerr: Destination Unknown

10. 12:20AM Alison Krauss & Union Station “Rain Please Go Away” from Lonely Runs Both Ways

11. audio clip from "Young Frenkenstein" - grave robbing is a dirty job

12. 12:24AM Big Maybelle “Rain Down Rain” from Big Maybelle The Complete OKeh Sessions

13. Monologue -- song cut off short so an MP3 must have been an MP2; upcoming shows

14. 12:28AM Brook Benton “Rainy Night In Georgia” from Can You Dig It? The 70s Soul Experience

13. Monologue naming cities all over the world where it's raining right now with music in background -- 12:31AM Peter, Paul and Mary “It's Raining” from Around The Campfire

13. 12:34AM Missy Elliott “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” from Supa Dupa Fly

14. 12:38AM Al Green “Standing In The Rain” from Lay It Down

15. 12:41AM Amy Lou Barnes, Sally Mueller “Little April Shower” from Bambi

16. 12:45AM Dinah Washington “Pennies From Heaven” from After Hours With Miss D

17. Monologue -- CCR songs about the rain, "Who'll Stop The Rain" -- PSA for local meetings for vets of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

18. 12:50AM Ladysmith Black Mambazo “Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain” from Shaka Zulu

19. 12:55AM Sondre Lerche “I Guess It's Gonna Rain Today” from Heartbeat Radio

20. Monologue -- pledge drive

21. 01:00AM Vashti Bunyan “Come Wind Come Rain” from Just Another Diamond Day

22. audio clip from "My Fair Lady"

23. 01:04AM Richard Robbins “The Storm” from A Room With A View

24. 01:07AM Mahalia Jackson “Didn't It Rain” from The World's Greatest Gospel Singer

25. 01:10AM The Beatles “Rain” from Abbey Road

26. Monologue -- story about my insisting George Harrison wrote "Rain" when in fact it was John Lennon

27. 01:12AM George Buck, Red-jacket & Group "Rain Dance (Canada)" from Alan Lomax Collection Sampler

28. 01:13AM Audra McDonald, Steve Kazee “The Rain Song” from 110 In The Shade

29. 01:17AM Duke Ellington “Raincheck” from Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band

30. audio clip from "Rain Man"

31. 01:20AM Jeffrey Foskett “Laughter in The Rain” from Stars In The Sand

32. Monologue -- drive more carefully when it's rainingl PSA about car repairs, insurance and your rights

33. 01:23AM Justin Currie “In The Rain” from What Is Love For

34. 01:26AM Sonny Terry, Brownie ^McGhee “Rainy Day” from Backwater Blues

35. 01:29AM Jimi Hendrix “Rainy Day, Dream Away” from Electric Ladyland

36. audio clip from "Hannah and Her Sisters" of ee cumming poem

37. 01:33AM Melody Gardot “The Rain” from My One And Only Thrill

38. Monologue -- leaky roof in my house; PSA about home improvement loans for Urbana residents; pledge drive

39. 01:37AM John Mellencamp “Rain On The Scarecrow” from Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits

40. 01:40AM The Flatlanders “After The Storm” from Hills and Valleys

41. 01:43AM Sterling Holloway “Little Black Rain Cloud” from The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh

42. 01:47AM Freddy Cole “Rain Is Such A Lonesome Sound” from Waiter, Ask The Man To Play The Blues

43. 01:51AM Tom Waits “Rain Dogs” from Rain Dogs

44. 01:54AM Alan Lomax “Ain't Gonna Rain No More” from Deep River Of Song: Alabama

45. 01:56AM Bing Crosby “Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella” from Bing With A Beat

46. 02:00AM The Serendipity Singers “Don't Let The Rain Come Down” from The Folk Years: Blowin' In The Wind

47. Monologue about leaky roof; PSA about help for homeless men

48. 02:03AM Gary Allan “Songs About Rain” from See If I Care

49. audio clip from "My Fair Lady"

50. 02:08AM Adele “Right As Rain” from 19

51. 02:12AM Kaiser Chiefs “Tomato In The Rain” from Off With Their Heads

52. Monologue -- a reading of Richard Brautigan's "It's Raining In Love"

53. 02:16AM Karen Dalton “Little Bit Of Rain” from It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best

54. 02:19AM Delois Barrett Campbell “The Storm Is Passing Over” from Say Amen Somebody

55. 02:24AM The Jayhawks “Save It For A Rainy Day” from Rainy Day Music

56. audio clip from "Psycho"

57. 02:27AM Eva Cassidy “Blues Eyes Crying In The Rain” from Somewhere

58. Monologue -- pledge drive

58. 02:30AM The Beta Band “Dry The Rain” from The Three E.P.s

59. 02:37AM Catherine Deneuve “Chez Tante Elise” from The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg

60. 02:40AM Paul Weller “Early Morning Rain” from Studio 150

61. 02:44AM Robert Wyatt “Raining In My Heart” from Cuckooland

62. Monologue -- a reading of "Souls and Rain Drops" by Sidney Lanier; PSA for downloading audio books from library

63. 02:49AM Everything But The Girl “My Head Is Only House Unless It Rains” from Like The Deserts Miss The Rain

64. audio clip from "Taxi Driver"

65. 02:55AM Randy Newman “I Think It's Going To Rain Today” from Guilty: 30 Years Of Randy Newman

Get Your Redhot Podcasts!

Two new episodes are up for your perusal for free at iTunes. Showbiz Sandbox is my weekly rundown of pop culture that I co-host with Sperling Reich and Karen Woodward. And Popsurfing, my weekly radio show on WEFT Champaign 90.1 (which airs live Thursday night/Friday morning from 1 am to 3 am+) is built around a new topic every episode. This week's theme: rain. Enjoy. And if you get a chance, we're making a push to get people to rate and review Showbiz Sandbox. Take a moment and click on that five star rating if you've ever downloaded it (and even if you haven't)! Thanks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Popsurfing Radio Show Playlist: Colors (11-12-09)

Here's the playlist for my latest Popsurfing radio show. It airs weekly on WEFT Champaign 90.1 fm on Thursday night/Friday morning from 1 am to 3 am. You can stream it live online at weft.org.

You can download the episode on iTunes. Enjoy!

PLAYLIST FOR COLORS (airdate: 11-12-2009)

01. The Wellingtons -- "Wonderful World Of Color"
02. Opener -- fall leaves; lipstick color monologue
03. 7 Worlds Collide -- "Too Blue"
04. Joni Mitchell -- "Big Yellow Taxi"
05. Madness -- "Rainbows"
06. Mayer Hawthorne -- "Green Eyed Love"
07. Monologue -- Paint Chips
08. Ray Davies -- "Village Green Medley"
09. Rosanne Cash -- "Long Black Veil"
10. audio clip from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
11. Monsters Of Folk -- "Magic Marker"
12. Monologue -- cream; Ol Dirty Bastard
13. Wu Tang Clan -- "C.R.E.A.M."
14. Grandmaster Flash -- "White Lines"
15. Ann Sexton -- "Color My World Blue"
16. Mildred Bailey -- "I Used To Be Color Blind"
17. Monologue -- color blindness; John Dalton and his pickled eyeball
18. Dolly Parton -- "God's Coloring Book"
19. audio clip from "Casablanca"
20. Nat King Cole -- "Orange Colored Sky"
21. Monologue -- donate now
17. 7 Worlds Collide -- "Hazel Black"
18. Loretta Lynn -- "Mrs. Leroy Brown"
19. Monologue -- Why is Johnny Cash the Man In Black?
20. Linda Lewis -- "Red Light Ladies"
21. Maxwell -- "Love You"
22. Leonard Cohen -- "Famous Blue Raincoat"
23. Jamey Johnson -- "In Color"
24. Monologue -- white; Goethe's Theory Of Color
25. Black Hollies -- "Run With Me Run"
26. audio clip from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
27. Arctic Monkeys -- "Old Yellow Bricks"
28. Gene Autry -- "Yellow Rose Of Texas"
29. Monologue -- red gold and green
30. Brian Eno -- "Another Green World"
31. Eric Dolphy -- "On Green Dolphin Street"
32. Tom Waits -- "All The World Is Green"
33. Monologue -- Isaac Newton, prisms, Marvel comics villain Prism
34. Charles Mingus -- "Self Portrait In 3 Colors"
35. Kermit The Frog -- "Being Green"
36. Monologue -- color montage
37. Sun Ra -- "Pink Elephants On Parade"/Harry Nilsson -- "Zip A Dee Doo Dah"
38. Suzanne Vega -- "Song In Red And Gray"
39. Monologue -- black and white
40. The Flatlanders -- "Wishing For A Rainbow"
41. Kings Of Leon -- "Red Morning Light"
42. Monologue -- "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear
43. The Soul Of John Black -- "Black John"
44. Monologue -- color montage fade out

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Interview With Padgett Powell

My latest HuffPo feature is an interview with author Padgett Powell, whose new book is composed entirely of a series of questions.

Also the latest episode of Showbiz Sandbox -- my weekly pop culture podcast with Sperling Reich and Karen Woodward -- is up now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Latest HuffPo DVD Column Is Up

I cover Il Divo, The Prisoner, Chinatown, Fawlty Towers, Tinker Bell and more. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cory Chisel and Nellie McKay Profiles Up Now

Check out two new stories I've posted on Huffington. One is a profile of major label debut artist Cory Chisel. The other is a chat with Nellie McKay, who just released a charming tribute album to Doris Day. Both are among the best CDs of the year.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Popsurfing Radio Show Playlist #1: Born Again

Just did my first radio show from 1 to 3 am EST. Since I was just figuring things out, I failed to properly record the show, so my debut will have to remain legendary rather than actually heard by anyone other than the lucky few who listened in live. Here's the playlist from that electrifying first show:

The theme of the show was "Born Again"

1. Richard and Linda Thompson -- "Dimming Of The Day/Dargai"
2. Beatles -- "Rocky Racoon"
3. Cory Chisel -- "Born Again"
4. A reading from Billy Graham's book "The Journey"
5. Wilco -- "Airline To Heaven"
6. The The -- "I Saw The Light"
7. Hank Williams -- "I'll Have A New Body"
8. Talking Heads -- "Take Me To The River"
9. A reading from the nonfiction book "Waking Giants" by David S Reynolds on the Great Awakening
10. Ray Charles -- "Hallelujah, I Love Her So"
11. The Staples Singers -- "I'll Take You There"
12. Rebirth Brass Band -- "Just A Little While To Stay Here"
13. monologue on being reborn again artistically
14. David Bowie -- "It Ain't Easy"
15. Cat Stevens -- "If You Wanna Sing Out, Sing Out"
16. Phoenix -- "Lisztomania"
17. A stanza from William Butler Yeats' "His Phoenix"
18. Cassandra Wilson -- "Resurrection Blues (Tutu)"
19. Bruce Springsteen -- "Thunder Road (live)"
20. U2 -- "Gloria"
21. monologue about Johnny Cash's burst of music at the end of his life
22. Johnny Cash -- "You Are My Sunshine"
23. Paul Simon -- "Born At The Right Time"
24. Ben Lee -- "Surrender"
25. Monologue about proposed film in which lovers are reincarnated and meet again, and cue the song that will play...
26. Frank Sinatra -- "Where Or When"
27. Jimmie Dale Gilmore -- "Just A Wave"
28. Steely Dan -- "Bodhisatva"
29. monologue on the meaning of Bodhisatva, then another selection from "Waking Giant" about revival meetings
30. Rev. Benny Canpbell -- "You Must Be Born Again"
31. Patty Loveless -- "Rise Up, Lazarus"
32. Nick Cave -- "Dig! Lazarus, Dig!"
33. monologue about Lazarus, reincarnation and the most famous reincarnated hero in history, the Doctor
34. Theme from "Doctor Who"
35. John Coltrane -- "Acknowledgement"
36. Jimi Hendrix -- "The Star Spangled Banner"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rosanne Cash Profile on Huffington Post

Read my latest Huffington Post piece, a profile of Grammy-winning artist Rosanne Cash talking about her new album The List.

You can listen to my podcast of the entire interview on iTunes via my Popsurfing podcast. (Note: there are two gaps of about 20 seconds during the 34 minute piece because I'm a fool and just learning how to do the technical stuff. My apologies, but happily none of the missing moments involve quotes from Cash.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cory Chisel on MPR

Listen here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Latest Showbiz Sandbox Podcast is Up!

Check it out. Guests include top Hollywood producers Ted Hope and Christine Vachon, as well as lawyer Jonathan Handel to give us the skinny on the latest SAG elections.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

My Very First Solo Podcast Is Now Up! Interview With Matthew Sweet

My very first solo podcast is now up on iTunes. This link takes you right to iTunes where you can download the podcast for free. I chat with Matthew Sweet, the acclaimed musician who has just put out his second album of duets with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles. They perform hits from the Seventies by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Mott The Hoople, Todd Rundgren, Big Star and Yes. It's a lot of fun and Sweet was great to talk with. Don't forget to subscribe and rate it.

And here's a link to my in-depth interview with Richard Thompson.

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Friend me on Netflix and get easy access to thousands of ratings and reviews.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Richard Thompson Is God

My latest interview is up on Huffington Post. It's a profile of legendary guitarist, singer and songwriter Richard Thompson, one of my favorite musical artists of all time. Check it out.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Get Conned: Check Out "Duplicity"

My latest Huffington Post DVD column is out and includes a lead review raving about the smart caper film Duplicity, starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Check it out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Willie Nelson's New Album Of Standards

My full review of Willie Nelson's American Classic -- his "official" follow-up to Stardust - is up now on Huffington Post. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Showbiz Sandbox Episode Is Now Up!

Check out the free weekly podcast I co-host. Called Showbiz Sandbox, it's a pop culture show hosted by industry insiders Sperling Reich, Karen Woodward and myself. The show features Anne Thompson of indiewire.com as our guest and covers everything from Twitter's (over-stated) effect on the box office of Inglorious Basterds to the Beatles. Go directly to Showbiz Sandbox on iTunes here.

Also, here are some recent columns I've posted on Huffington:

My DVD column pegged to the release of the UK Life On Mars.

My DVD column on the new Miss Marple and the heated debate it inspired.

My DVD column on beloved cult hit Firefly.

My DVD column on an imaginary battle between Hannah Montana and Dragonball: Evolution.

Willie Nelson is following me on Twitter. Why aren't you?

Are you on Netflix? Friend me and get easy access to thousands of ratings and reviews and my Top Movies of the Year lists from the 20s to the Present.

Here's another link to Showbiz Sandbox.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tilda Swinton's Film Festival

Tilda Swinton is one of my favorite actresses -- I still remember being stunned by how lovely she looked when I interviewed her at Cannes, with the seashore in the background and Swinton and her red hair and bewitching looks just inches away. Always intriguing on camera, she's a beauty in person. And of course she has bold, unconventional taste as borne out by film after film...and now by a film festival she's begun.

Peter Knegt has the sweet story on indiewire. Check it out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

1939 -- The Greatest Year For Movies

1939 is often mentioned as the greatest year for movies in history. And no wonder -- the ten movies nominated for Best Picture at that year's Oscars are enough to quicken the pulse of any filmgoer. So I've decided that if 1939 is the greatest year for movies that I should watch ANY movie made in 1939. I've listed below the movies I've seen repeatedly in the past and now keep track of any new film I watch that's made in that year. I've undoubtedly failed to include some movies I saw years ago because they weren't memorable and I wasn't paying attention to when they were made. Since I've seen at least 100 movies released each year for the past 20 years, it will be a while before I can definitively say I've seen as many from 1939. But I'm getting there: I scan TCM every week and DVR anything from that year I come across. Below I list the movies alphabetically and by star rating, so the absolute classics come first. How many movies from 1939 have you seen?

1939

Gone With The Wind ****
Gunga Din ****
The Hound Of The Baskervilles ****
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame ****
The Lady Vanishes ****
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington ****
Ninotchka ****
Rules of the Game ****
Stagecoach ****
The Wizard Of Oz ****
The Women ****

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes *** ½
Love Affair *** ½
Of Mice and Men *** ½
The Roaring Twenties *** ½
Wuthering Heights *** ½

Bachelor Mother (Ginger Rogers w baby and David Niven) ***
Beau Geste ***
Charlie Chan in City In Darkness ***
Destry Rides Again ***
Dodge City ***
Drums Along The Mohawk ***
Five Came Back (Lucille Ball – plane crash in jungle) ***
Goodbye, Mr. Chips ***
Intermezzo: A Love Story ***
Invisible Stripes (Geroge Raft, William Holden, Bogie, ex-cons) ***
The Oklahoma Kid ***
Only Angels Have Wings ***
The Saint Strikes Back ***
The Story Of Vernon and Irene Castle ***
Union Pacific ***
Young Mr. Lincoln ***

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn ** 1/2
Calling Dr. Kildare ** ½
Captain Fury ** ½
Charlie Chan at Treasure Island ** ½
In Name Only ** 1/2
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt ** ½
Night Nurse ** 1/2
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex ** ½
The Real Glory (Gary Cooper, Phillipines, Moro rebellion) ** ½
The Saint in London ** ½
The Secret of Dr. Kildare ** ½
Stanley and Livingstone ** ½

Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever **
Babes In Arms **
Charlie Chan in Reno **
The Falcon’s Brother **
Made For Each Other **
Maisie (Ann Southern) **
Sylvia Scarlett **

Espionage Agent * 1/2
Fast and Loose * ½
The Great Man Votes (scenery chewing John Barrymore) * ½
The Ice Follies of 1939 (Jimmy Stewart and Joan Crawford) * ½
It’s A Wonderful World (Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert) * ½
Nancy Drew, Reporter * ½
They Made Her A Spy * ½

Jamaica Inn *
Naughty But Nice *
Nancy Drew, Trouble Shooter *
Nick Carter, Master Detective *
Rhythm Romance aka Some Like It Hot *
Topper Takes A Trip *
Way Down South *

Charley’s Big-Hearted Aunt (tired farce) no stars
Zenobia )Laurel & Hardy) no stars


67 movies

Updated as of 7/25/2009

Swimming Bans Those Hi-Tech Suits!

The best news I've heard in ages :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Check Out Aaron's Blog

My friend Aaron sees even more movies than me and since he has good if eclectic taste, he's worth checking out.

His blog, quite accurately named "All The Movies I Watch" is here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Namechecked In Variety

If I can't write for Variety, at least I can get quoted in Variety. A new article in Variety about the success of Pixar's Up quotes my Huffington Post article, which dissed the Wall Street critics who questioned the film's potential and dissed the New York Times for factual errors and letting the analysts mouth patent untruths when making their case. (Not to mention ignoring how analysts have been wrong about Pixar films time and time again.) All good.

Two minor problems. The Variety article implies that I chided analysts and the New York Times AFTER the movie Up opened to glorious reviews and excellent box office. But I deserved a little more credit than that. In fact, I wrote my detailed critique six weeks ago, the very day the New York Times article appeared. And I didn't intend to write "mockingly;" I was highlighting mistakes that should have been corrected by the Times as well as numerous instances where the analysts quoted were shortsighted, misleading or just plain demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the business they're supposed to be talking about. Still, it was fun to see myself quoted in Variety, a trade paper I've been reading since I was a little kid growing up in South Florida.

But the other problem really hurt: they spelled my name Glitz instead of Giltz. I suppose it's my fault for not changing it to "Michael Gannon" the way I wanted to when I was twelve years old. (NOTE: And now it's been corrected! Thanks Mr. Lowry.)

P.S. By the way, the article gives one of the analysts (Pali Research's Richard Greenfield) a chance to redeem himself...and he falls flat on his face. First, rather than acknowledge that Up got off to an excellent start, he pettily says "It's hard to call success/failure for the film after one weekend...especially given the fact that 5% fewer people saw the film opening weekend than 'WALL-E."

Huh. Where to begin. First, it's actually very EASY to declare some films a flop after their opening weekend: Land of the Lost certainly bellyflopped. Maybe it will do exponentially better overseas (where the title has no resonance, unlike in the US). But it's pretty easy to call it a disappointment. At best, a huge overseas success would make it not a disaster unless it behaves unbelievably better around the world. However, the point that a movie's success or failure isn't inherently determined on opening weekend is a truism. But what you can say is boy, Up sure got off to a terrific start: it's the third-highest opening weekend for Pixar in their history. By failing to do so, he's just refusing to admit he's got egg on his face. Surely, the starting point should not be, yeah, well it could still stumble but "Yes, I made a mistake and the film has launched very well indeed."

Next, his cheap shot that "5% fewer people saw the film opening weekend than 'WALL-E'" ignores that this is the trend for virtually every film and every franchise you can name over the past decade -- Hollywood has been raising prices and selling the same or fewer tickets for many years. Why wouldn't Pixar reflect that industry-wide trend? Besides, the audience for Up was notably older and included a lot of adults without children. More adults means higher ticket prices and a higher box office gross despite having sold fewer tickets. That's a plus. Pixar films appeal to everyone, not just families and the more their audience broadens, the better it is.

Finally, Greenfield says "We continue to focus on whether this film will be more or less profitable than WALL-E." Really? Why is "Wall-E" suddenly the standard for success? It grossed $534 million at the box office worldwide. However, only 63 films in HISTORY have grossed more than $500 million at the box office worldwide. Some 600+ movies are released theatrically a year. Is he really saying that if "Up" doesn't become one of the 60 biggest hits of all time that it's going to be a disaster?

Only an idiot would expect every new film to gross more money than the one that came before it. But that's the stupid standard that analysts sometimes expect from Hollywood. What they should really do is take a deep breath and wait for all the money to come in: US, overseas, TV, cable, pay per view, downloads, rentals, DVD sales and so on. Add it all up. Plus merchandising and spin-offs and other revenue. Add it up again. Did you make more money than you spent? Good. Did you make a lot more (which is the case with virtually every single Pixar film so far)? Then great! Expecting every James Cameron film to gross as much as Titanic would be dumb. Expecting every musical to make more than The Sound Of Music is stupid. Arbitrarily stating that Up must make more than WALL-E -- as if box office grosses build upon one another -- is dumb. Pixar films have proven remarkably consistent -- with the last eight looking like they'll all gross more than $200 million, with foreign a huge upside and merchandising even bigger. So they never lose money, often make a lot of money and sometimes make a LOT of money.

That list of the top-grossing movies of all time worldwide? 63 of which have made more than $500 million? Pixar has FIVE of them: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Monsters Inc. (When Toy Story 2 gets re-released in 3-D, it will jump from $485 million into the same rarified ranks, making Pixar six for nine. And Up might very well join them, making them 7 for 10. But even if it "only" grosses $400 million worldwide, only a fool would label that a failure or some sign of a stumble by Pixar. Not every film can gross half a billion worldwide. But as long as they can make a profit, get great reviews, add to the company's jewel-like reputation and keep product in the pipeline, that's a success in my book...and should be in the book of any analyst too.