New Orleans: Love Letter from the Diaspora

Posted: August 30th, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 5 Comments »

newimagesBecause its culture is a continuum, because its spirit is immutable, New Orleans lives.

So it doesn’t really matter where I start this love letter to the Crescent City, on the occasion of the ten year anniversary of Katrina’s unwelcome intrusion.

The city is a force unto its own. Its spirit inhabited my soul before I even knew it, way before I understood why.

So, it really is of little consequence where this begins, whether what I share is objective, complete, or but a fawning missive from a long distance lover. For this unique, mysterious presence that is our country’s most unique burg shall live as Atlantis long after I am dust, long after the waters will have come to wash it away as surely they will soon enough, long after these words dissipate into cybergalactic babble.

So here’s where and when I’ll start. On a Sunday night. May, 1989. On a balcony in the Vieux Carré. Read the rest of this entry »

Film Review: End of the Tour

Posted: August 29th, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

dfwimagesAs I discuss in the podcasted film review of “End of the Tour” below, I have a long held antipathy toward films that simply present two people talking a lot to each other.

Which was one of the reasons I was reticent about seeing this flick, since it is essentially about an extended several day interview of author David Foster Wallace by a writer from Rolling Stone magazine.

However, I’m pleased to say I moved beyond my preconceptions. I went to see the movie. Most important, I enjoyed it.

Especially the performance of Jason Segal, who portrays the author David Foster Wallace.

For a more detailed review of the movie, listen below:

Audio MP3

Film Review: Best of Enemies

Posted: August 28th, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast, Politics | No Comments »

debateimagesThere is no way to overestimate the pivotal nature of the debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, during the 1968 presidential nominating conventions.

Until the moment of the contentious contretemps between these erudtie intellectuals from opposite ends of the political spectrum, television’s coverage of the political process was relatively straight forward.

It’s never been the same since.

“Best of Enemies” tells the whole story, including how the moment affected both men for the rest of their lives.

For more details, listen up:

Audio MP3

Film Review: “American Ultra”

Posted: August 23rd, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

ultraimagesNot sure exactly when — or why for that matter — the CIA became as loathed an organization in film as, say, the Gestapo or the KGB?

But, it’s twu, it’s twu.

Lots of violent adventure films in which the spy organization plays a major role.

Including “American Ultra,” featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as a stoner couple, living in the West Virginia hinterlands. All of a sudden a bunch of highly trained operatives are trying to eliminate them.

The film has a few laughs, a kind of sweet love story, lots of violence, some cartoonish, some not, and a few smile-inducing twists and turns.

For a more detailed take on the movie, feel free to click below and listen.

Audio MP3

Film Review: “Show Me A Hero”

Posted: August 22nd, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

heroYes, of course, technically, this is not a film review.

“Show Me A Hero” is an HBO mini-series, showing on three consecutive Sunday nights. It started last week.

Given that its creator is David Simon, I’m locked in.

Simon is the genius behind “The Wire,” which I consider the best drama ever, any medium. He also did “Treme,” which I loved.

Yet again, Simon has taken what would seem to be the driest of subjects — a subsidized housing brouhaha in Yonkers — and turned it into human drama of the highest order.

For a more detailed examination of “Show Me A Hero,” listen up:

Audio MP3

Film Review: “Straight Outta Compton”

Posted: August 21st, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

comptonWhen it comes to pop music history, the gansta rap pioneer NWA is easily among the most important and influential ever.

So, it makes sense that, finally, the tale of Dr. Dre and Easy E and Ice Cube et al would make it onto the big screen.

In a big way. It’s far and away the most popular film on the cineplex screens these days.

What’s fascinating is how the story of this musical ensemble resembles that of thousands that came before, while, given the culture from which it evolved, how it differs.

The movie is presented for the mainstream. This is not docudrama.

For further in depth observations, listen up:

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Film Review: “Cop Car”

Posted: August 17th, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

copcarSo, a couple of pubescent boys run away from home.

Unfortunately for them they run across what appears to be an abandoned police car in a meadow. Emboldened after awhile, they take off with it, despite the fact they neither is close to driving age, nor knows anything about how to operate a car.

It is also not to their benefit that the car belongs to Kevin Bacon, who is off to no good whatsoever not so far away, when they come across and abscond with his vehicle.

Suspense and serious tension ensue.

“Cop Car” is a marvelous little film, one of the best of this summer season.

For more details, listen below:

Audio MP3

Film Review: Ricki & The Flash

Posted: August 14th, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

rickiimagesMeryl Streep plays in a cover band in a bar in Cali.

Though long estranged from her ex- and three adult kids, she gets called home, when her daughter is jilted by her hubby.

Arguments, finger pointing and some reconciliation ensues.

The film is directed by Jonathon Demme, and written by Diablo Cody. It also features Kevin Kline.

So, it can’t be all that cloying, right? That’s right. You’ve seen a lot worse.

Here’s why:

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Film Review: The Man From UNCLE

Posted: August 14th, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

uncleimagesJust when you thought we already had enough superheroes fighting evil on the planet, and Cousin Tommy Cruise, here come Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakan, come to help save the day. Despite their differences.

Along for the ride is budding superstar Alicia Vikander as an undercover British agent.

There’s more style than substance here. Imagine your surprise. But more laughs and smiles than chases and explosions. So, that’s a good thing.

For a bit more detail on why you might like to see this film, listen up.

Audio MP3

Film Review: “Irrational Man”

Posted: August 9th, 2015 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

movieWoody Allen’s films — he releases one every year, literally — don’t generate quite the buzz these days as they used to.

There are a lot of reasons for that. But that’s a dialog for another time.

With “Irrational Man,” we get Woody in serious mode.

Joaquin Phoenix is a depressed professor, who accidentally hears a conversation in a diner, which rejuvenates him, spurs him to action which changes his whole outlook on life.

At which juncture, the film turns into a mystery of sorts. What will become of Phoenix, and of his relationships with the two women in his life, fellow prof Parker Posey, and Emma Stone as a student?

For More details, listen to the podcast below:

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Rock ‘n’ Roll TV: Stewart’s Sayonara (Springsteen video included) & Ten Angry Men

Posted: August 7th, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, Politics, Ruminations, TV | 2 Comments »

newsIt’s just the morning after. (Actually afternoon, but I’m speaking metaphorically.)

So, it’s way too early to tell if last night’s television fare — the most compelling in memory — was a watershed moment of the medium?

It might have been. Stay tuned.

Even if not, what a fascinating double dip it was.

It was Fox News’s finest hour. The network that has turned passing off conservative propaganda as news into a fine art proved itself capable of at least one shining moment.

Moderators Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly actually moderated a captivating Q & A with the ten GOP presidential candidates currently leading in the polls. They asked tough but fair questions, the kind that had they been presented by Rachel Maddow would have had Hannity and O’Reilly calling her a “commie femoNazi Demo Dyke, pushing the Obama/ Clinton socialist agenda.” Read the rest of this entry »

Stuff Breaks vs. Our Addiction to Convenience

Posted: August 5th, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations | No Comments »

brokenToilets clog.

Dishwashers leak.

Refrigerators fail to refrigerate.

Tires blow.

Breaks get mushy.

Gearshifts stick.

Computers burp.

Apps freeze.

Screens go blue.

Banks get hacked.

TVs pixillate.

Batteries run out of juice.

Remotes wear out.

Committees lose consensus. Read the rest of this entry »