Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spartans! Tonight We Blog in Hell!"

My latest Huffington Post covers DVDs, including 300, some Popeye cartoons and "Hawaii Five-O," all linked by the topic of racism.

First Bergman, Then Antonioni

Somewhere in Europe, Jean-Luc Godard is hiding in a cellar and trying to keep very, very quiet....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Prince Is Right: Stuff Gotta Be Free

Here's my latest Huffington Post, this one sparked by an offer from Entertainment Weekly to subscribe to their magazine -- one year, 57 issues, for -- get this -- $10. Ten bucks? Why not just give it away? In fact, I think that'll happen soon enough.

Two Concerts; Two Revelations

I went to two shows last night. The first was an electric blues band called Back Door Slam performing at the Mercury Lounge. Their publicist urged me to check them out. Usually, I let publicists play the "you've got to see this" card once or twice a year. Some try to use it with every single project and you learn to ignore them. Others know they'll earn your trust if they play that card only when they really mean it. This publicist had probably never really pushed me to see an act before, so I gave it a shot.

My friend Noam and I arrived and went back to the concert area...which was virtually empty. We sat on the couch along the wall as a few people wandered in for their 8 p.m. set. I said, "Wouldn't it be fun if they blew us away?" And darned if they didn't. The three kids I thought were techies were in fact the band. All of them about 21, with the lead singer Davy looking like he was still in high school. While they were still goofing around before the show, the bassist tickled the lead singer from behind, who jumped five feet in the air and then they laughed and he offered a hug which the bassist mock accepted but then walked away before delivering. Then they wandered onstage and the sweet looking Davy (who looks like he should be starring on a show on Nickelodeon) started singing and out of his mouth leaped the voice of a 60 year old blues singer, confident, raspy, commanding and electric. His guitar playing was equally assured. They performed some originals, a cover of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, a 30s blues number I didn't catch and all of it was just a blast. Davy indulges in some flashy pyrotechnics, but if you can't do that when you're 21, when the heck can you? But they were very, very disciplined and like all promising blues acts, you can only assume they'll deepen and get even better over the years. The next coming of Stevie Ray Vaughan? An absolutely earned comparison after seeing them live. The bassist had some seriously long fingers and was delightfully unperturbed throughout the show -- a real rock, just like the drummer. This is a really good power trio I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone looking to have sweaty, rowdy fun right now. (Wear ear plugs; they do!) And their potential is sky high. Here's hoping these three guys stay and play together for a long time to come.

I followed Back Door Slam (which sounds like gay slang for giving your boyfriend the cold shoulder when he's done something wrong) with Ann Hampton Callaway at the Blue Note. I expected her to be terrific and she was. This time I was joined by my friend TJ, who was a bit under the weather but soldiered on anyway. The Blue Note was filled with its usual complement of Japanese tourists, some Latin lady in the back who kept shouting out comments and jazz purists. I can't really love the Blue Note -- you'll drop $50 for a 40 minute set and then get shoved out the door, but it's a great little space. Callaway had a sleepy summer audience but delivered like a pro. A delightful set capped by her party trick of writing a song on the spot using phrases shouted out by the audience. But what sticks with me is her masterful rendition of "Lush Life," probably the mos difficult standard to sing. Period. She made it look easy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Latest DVD Column

Head on over to Huffington Post. I review "Zodiac," "Pillow Talk," "The Host" and more. And leave lots of comments!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Javier Bardem and Some Talented Gals

Here are my latest features in the NY Daily News: a profile of Javier Bardem, who is really great in this fall's upcoming Coen brothers movie "No Country For Old Men, and four musical acts playing in the city soon -- Maria McKee, Ann Hampton Callaway, Kelly Willis and Liz McComb.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"Harry Potter" Banned From NYTimes Bestseller List

Read my latest Huffington Post on why "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will be the bestselling book of the year but will never make it onto the New York Times bestseller list.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

DVDing for Huffington Post

Head over to Huffington Post to read my very first weekly DVD review column for them. Include your snarky comments and send your friends and I can pretend I have a fan base! Thanks.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oh God, Bill Maher

Here's my latest Daiy News feature, a profile of Bill Maher who has a stand-up special on Saturday, the return of his terrific HBO show Real Time in late August, and a documentary about religion coming out next spring. One error: Maher is quoted seeing the religion film but he actually only saw six minutes of footage. The movie isn't done yet.

Now, back to my endless interviews. Since Friday, I've spoken to country singer Kelly Willis, gospel singer Liz McComb, Americana rocker Maria McKee of Lone Justice (lots of fun) and today jazz singer Ann Hampton Callaway (also a hoot and a half -- she answered her phone, "The Michael Giltz Fan Club, may I help you?")

Tomorrow, I should have Alison Kraus, maybe Nicole Atkins, and the leads from Xanadu, not to mention trying to talk my way into the Teddy Thompson concert on Tuesday at Mo Pitkins. I'm exhausted already.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Today, I file two stories, start scheduling seven interviews over the next five days, plan to see "Xanadu" tonight, a short break from listening to the CDs of the artists I'll be speaking with soon. Whew. Much better than yesterday.

So I Had A Bad Day

Yesterday? Oy. I woke up to my cable box tapping out a furious message, like Morse code from a sinking ship. I tried rebooting only to get "FAIL" scrolling on the box. After an hour on the phone, I had to schedule a repairman for today. Then my lovely new Mac laptop wouldn't cooperate with Firefox (again). Not for the first time my screen froze (with the symbol that appears a lovely pinwheel of color I'm beginning to despise). Rebooting, phone calls, attempts to find fixes online, calls to the very expensive Apple Care which refuses to deal with anything un-Apple related. Finally I did what you always have to do: strip out the program and start all over again. In the midst of all this failure (I woke up late, too) my editor calls saying he needs a story in thirty minutes. Tops. Uh..... Later, I run to the local store for some Arm & Hammer baking soda (I couldn't deal with all my problems so I tackled something I could: the mess in my apartment). They didn't have any so I took a long walk to the only local grocery store to get it and some laundry detergeant. It rained on me all the way home. I get home, change clothes and receive a phone call from a good friend whose Mom just died unexpectedly at 65. My TV is still dead. (The next day the repair guy would say there was a system update that affected TVs in the neighborhood. But he told this AFTER replacing my box -- which had nothing wrong with it -- and giving me another one that was different but no better, losing all my programs and DVR'd stuff and favorites). So I go out to grab a bite and throw out half my food because it's too hot to eat. Good night.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Glass Rocks -- My Latest Stories

Go here to read my NY Daily News profile of John Gallagher, Tony winner for Spring Awakening and member of Americana rock band Old Springs Pike. (I'm checking them out tonight with my friend Claire.) And go here to read my NY Daily News chat with Philip Glass, who has a new piece combining his music with the poetry of Leonard Cohen. I'll be seeing that show Saturday night, right before I head out to a karaoke party for NYCD music store stalwart Tony, where I'm certain to rock the house with my compelling version of Neil Diamond's "Love On The Rocks."

Friday, July 06, 2007

In Bed With Huffington

The blog whore that I am, I've just posted my first item at Huffington Post. I'm delighted to be a contributor, though they seem to have invited so MANY people to post at Huffington that the bloggers will soon outnumber the bloggees. Here's my item on the NYTimes' coverage of the iPhone.

Send all your friends there and post comments so I look important! Thanks.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Oliver Stone's Fourth Of July Message

Oliver Stone made a request to interview the president of Iran for a documentary. Iran finally turned him down, saying that even though Stone was considered part of the opposition, he was still a part of the Great Satan. Stone's response, per MSNBC, is worthy of The Daily Show:

“I have been called a lot of things, but never a great Satan,” Stone said in the statement [released Monday]. “I wish the Iranian people well, and only hope their experience with an inept, rigid ideologue president goes better than ours.”

"Transformers" Stuck In First Ge---- uh, Transformed Into Junk...um, Transforms The Summer Into Fun!! (A Tribute To Joel Siegel)

As I explained to my dad, the amiable Joel Siegel was not an important critic, just a very visible one perhaps best known for unashamedly coming up with catchy reviews that couldn't have been more flattering if they were written by the movie studio's ad department. For years, he was probably the most quoted film critic in the country. Still, a harmless fellow and my sympathies to his family. I'll miss him on the Oscar nomination days (the only time I ever got up early enough to watch the morning news shows).

On to "Transformers." First, a box office prediction: I was shocked at the complete indifference of Yankee fans to this movie. I didn't expect mania but I certainly didn't expect such blase, who cares attitudes towards it either. I never played with the toys or I never watched the show were the usual comments. I'm sure the movie will open big. But Monday's performance of $8.8 mil was barely ahead of Monday's performance for "Ratatouille," which had already been out for a weekend. ("Ratatouille" also had a full day of shows while "Transformers" had just 8 p.m. and on.) It'll open big, but having seen the film I think it will fall hard and fast, after the initial five day tally. It doesn't play very well for any age group, even though the opening night aud applauded a bit at the end.

And the movie itself? Far, far worse than I imagined. I don't know why I had any expectations at all, since director Michael Bay is batting .000 as far as I'm concerned. But the reviews were pretty darn nice, the trailers were very effective and I started to hope that maybe it wouldn't suck. But it did. Shia LaBeouf is fine, but his high school love interest -- Megan Fox -- looks about 25 years old (she's 21) and like a super model. She's so far from a typical, approachable high school teenager (and a girl with a rap sheet, no less) that it's laughable. Spielberg should be held responsible for letting such a major casting choice be so weak. Shia is very realistic and real but his gf is absurdly hot. This trend continues in crowd scene after crowd scene where we keep getting distracted during moments of pandemonium by hot chicks. How about some normal people? Even more idiotic is the moment where the various robots (or whatever) are battling it out and tearing up a city and people are fleeing everywhere when Shia accidentally falls onto a car. The chick driving it complains that he dented it and suddently her wheel comes alive and eats her. Why was she worried about a dent anyway? Entire buildings are exploding around her and people are screaming in sheer terror. Would she really care about a dent?

A minor detail but indicative of a film that is completely idiotic. We waste a huge amount of time with a subplot about a team of young analysts (including a super hot Aussie chick) who are brought in to analyze a signal. She steals info to take it to her comic relief black friend who is even smarter than them all and gets arrested and becomes the Secretary of War's adviser...and never, ever makes one real breakthrough or provides any help at all until finally at the end when she rigs up an SOS system to get out a message, apparently to giver her at least ONE heroic moment and a reason for being in the film.

The action scenes are typically chaotic and dull, since Michael Bay is incapable of shooting an action scene where you can actually follow the action. Even worse are the comic scenes geared towards eight year olds (like the scene where the autobots (or whatever) are hiding in the yard from Shia's parents.

Josh Duhamel starts shouting out orders at one point. Shia is given the precious Cube that could save or destroy mankind with Autobots protecting him...instead of the Autobots simply taking the Cube themselves, since they are quite a big faster and stronger than him. It's completely illogical, stupid, laughably cliched and ham-fisted. We're told numerous times that humans are a young race but the Autobots see some potential for good in us. Not if we keep turning out summer movies like this one.