The Big Game: Red vs. Blue

Posted: December 31st, 2008 | Filed under: Culture, Features, Sports | No Comments »

More eloquently than I, sportswriting doyen Charles P. Pierce has riffed on the difference between the Big Game and an important game.

The important game is of note because of an extraneous circumstance, say, a made-for-TV matchup, or perhaps because the winner advances toward some legit championship.

The Big Game is much more, laden with generational consequence. It is ritualistic, fraught with anticipation and conflict. Fans who bleed their team’s colors turn off the phone, don lucky underwear, eschew familial duties and, in the event of a loss, cocoon until the aftershock has passed. Read the rest of this entry »


Culture Maven’s Person of Year

Posted: December 28th, 2008 | Filed under: Culture, Features, Personalities, Politics | No Comments »

On a lark, an old pal Jan and some friends went to a Lisa Minelli concert in early fall during the election. It was a rather staid crowd, including the well dressed couple sitting next to them.

To introduce a song, Lisa mentioned it was homage to “the greatest woman ever.” At which point the seemingly normal, mild mannered fellow in a suit and tie sitting next to my friend shouted at the top of his lungs, “Sarah Palin.”

Incredulous, Jan looked over and asked, “You’re kidding, right?”

“Absolutely not,” he answered.

In fact, Minelli was referring to Sara Lee. Yeah, the coffee cake gal.

But here’s the point. In a year when our country finally stood up for truth, justice and the American way by electing our first black president, when we finally are able to bid a fond adieu to our worst president in history and his unrepentant, egregious sidekick/ puppeteer, the most compelling personality of this very political annum was an out-of-the-blue previously unknown vice presidential candidate from Alaska.

Because of that unfortunately not-so-stunning phenomenon and what it says about our culture in 2008, Sarah Palin is the Culture Maven’s Person of the Year. Read the rest of this entry »


We’re # 1

Posted: December 28th, 2008 | Filed under: Community, Culture, Personalities, Politics, Ruminations | No Comments »

Always willing to herald the achievments of the town which he has mayored for the last, oh, century and a half or so, HizzonerForLife Jerry Abramson, for some inexplicable reason, has chosen not to publicize the one area in which Louisville is #1 in this Googlefied, cybergalactic age.

The city whose citizens are most likely to search for obscene material on the internet.

We may be hurtin’ for certain in other areas. But, as Carl Spackler famously said, after caddying for the Dalai Lama and receiving eternal life, “So, hey, we got that goin’ for us.”

Don’t believe the ol’ Culture Maven. Read about it here.


Think Global, Buy Local

Posted: December 18th, 2008 | Filed under: Community, Ruminations | No Comments »

Okay, I’m in Louisville, Kentucky, but this is applicable wherever you may live.

There’s but a few shopping days left before Christmas, but, if you still have stuff to buy, but it from a locally owned store. If you can buy locally produced products, all the better. And, hey, it doesn’t just apply to Christmas. This is a way we can all help the viability of the communities we live in. All the time. Read the rest of this entry »


Movies I Love, Part XIII: Body Heat

Posted: December 14th, 2008 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Features | No Comments »

Ned Racine (William Hurt) in “Body Heat,” like Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jake Gittes in “Chinatown,” is bright but not as much so as he thinks, and he falls in love with the wrong woman. Racine, an underachieving lawyer in hot hot hot south Florida, is also a bit lazy, single, ever on the prowl and tempestuously immoral.

The audience realizes, but he doesn’t, that he’s a goner from the moment he spies lithe, sensuous and smokey-voiced Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) at a concert one night on the pier.

She smolders. They flirt. She disappears on him. He tracks her down. (As Matty says, “Well, some men, once they get a whiff of it, they trail you like a hound.”) What ensues is the hottest interlude in film. Which I now present for your perusal.

Matty’s hubby Edmund (Richard Crenna), who is conveniently away a lot on business, is not as “small and weak” as Matty says. Even though Ned realizes that after a chance encounter with the couple at a restaurant, his passion leads to you know what conclusion. They desire no impediments to their “love.” As Ned says, “A man is going to die . . . just because we want him to.” Read the rest of this entry »


Long Winter Ahead

Posted: December 11th, 2008 | Filed under: Community, Culture, Features, Politics | No Comments »

So I’m thinking about the economy. And wondering when it bottoms out and takes a turn for the better, where the jobs are going to come from?

The number of human beings necessary for commerce has been on the decrease for decades.

I remember a comment from the guy in my office in the 70’s charged with hiring and firing. It was the advent of electric typewriters and rudimentary word processors. He was one of those liberal, humanist types, but his words resonated. “I’m not going to allow efficiency get in the way of hiring real people to do our secretarial work.” That’s a paraphrase, but close enough.

That’s a long time ago. Read the rest of this entry »


Movies I Love, Part XIII: Putney Swope

Posted: December 7th, 2008 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Features | No Comments »

Anybody ten years or older who has seen a movie recently knows who Robert Downey Jr. is. He’s one of the great actors of our time, a fellow whose charisma blasts from the screen. A flawed human who has struggled with drugs and their attendant problems, but who hopefully has come out the other side of that darkness.

But I’m here to talk about his father, that would be Robert Downey Sr.. And the flawed but seminal film he made in 1969 titled “Putney Swope.”

The premise is simple but was revolutionary at the time. A New York ad agency has a token black member on the Board of Directors. When the chairman dies during a board meeting — his corpse still on the table — those remaining mistakenly elect Putney Swope the new chairperson. Seems the by-laws prevent anybody from voting for himself. Thus Swope is tabbed, since the others can’t vote for themselves and none think any will ever vote for the black man. Read the rest of this entry »


Filmdom’s Funniest Scene, Take Deux

Posted: December 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture | 1 Comment »

Okay, so I’ve got too much time on my hands. Since I posited the query whether the Marx Brothers’ Stateroom Scene is the funniest in all of film, I thought of a worthy contender. Mr. Creosote dining out in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” This one goes on for a bit after the punchline, but is certainly worthy of your attention. Check it out. By the by, if you have some other suggestions, let me know.


Filmdom’s Funniest Scene???

Posted: December 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture | No Comments »

Since I mentioned the stateroom scene from the Marx Brothers’ “Night At The Opera” a few weeks ago during my Tuesday morning radio gig, several folks have asked me about it. I’m tired of referring people to youtube.com to see it, so I thought I’d just post it here. Cockamamie humor at its apotheosis. Enjoy.


Open the Bridge for Heavens’ sake!

Posted: December 4th, 2008 | Filed under: Community, Personalities, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

Updated 12/04 @ 3:05 pm — Seems that the powers that be are having second thoughts. Here’s the latest as reported by the C-J: ” City spokesman Chris Poynter said the guardrails could be erected within a week if the city can get the state highway department’s bridge engineers and the state historic preservation officer to sign off on the plan.”

For reasons too painful to go into — the final illness of my beloved Lila the Love Dog and trips with her to her vet’s office in Prospect — I’ve been driving a lot on River Road the last few months. Which meant trips across that lovely one-lane Harrods Creek Bridge, where civility and accomodation and patience have always been manifest.

Now, as I trust you’ve read, it is closed. The reason, if I can decipher the official explanation, is that the guard rails aren’t safe. So, what the authorities have done is erect steel guard rails blocking the entrances to the bridge at either end.

For once I have to agree with the River Fields group. (Normally I take this tony conglomeration of folks who reside along the Upper River Road corridor to task.) Their position here is that the authorities might just as well have erected those steel barriers as guard rails and the bridge could have been reopened already.

Who am I to disagree?

Instead this well-traveled but eminently bucolic artery to the city’s northeastern burbs is now blocked at a critical juncture. And for the forseeable future. Which will increase traffic along windy Wolf Pen Branch Road and Brownsboro Road.

If the bridge is truly unsafe, the public should know why. And when it will be fixed. If the bridge just needs new guard rails, just move the ones recently erected to the sides of the bridge and reopen it.

This one, kiddos, is a no brainer.


Newpaperus Minimus

Posted: December 4th, 2008 | Filed under: Community, Culture, Ruminations | No Comments »

I know and understand and really lament the rapid demise of print media. I’ve been reading the newpaper first thing in the morning since I was in the fifth grade. That was a long time ago. It’s a hard habit to break, not that I even want to. Even if the quality — especially of the editing  — has seriously declined at the C-J, I want it there on the porch steps when I awaken.

So I lament that so bad is the financial picture for our once proud paper that it laid off a passel of folks yesterday, which will surely further erode the quality and amount of content. Not to mention increase the length of lines at the Unemployment Office at 6th & Cedar.

And I note that on this Thursday morning, in the middle of the holiday shopping season, when advertising is usually at its peak, the paper was so thin and devoid of ads you couldn’t have even lined the bottom of a birdcage with it.

Which is to not even mention the sad and depressing nature of all the economic downturn news that permeated every page.


Wednesday Night on the Tube

Posted: December 4th, 2008 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, TV | No Comments »

Okay, so usually during the winter, I’m a basketball sloth. After dinner, I turn whatever college hoops contest is on, try to avoid the cacaphony of Dick Vitale, and veg. Thereby ignoring the other pleasures of the other hundreds of stations to which I subscribe in my Insight Digital package.

After last night, I now have a new plan for Wednesdays.

At 9:00 on the Sundance Channel is a new show called “Elvis Costello Spectacle.” For music buffs it’s the real deal. On the first show he interviewed Elton John. And fascinating it was. They talked about influences, such as Laura Nyro, Leon Russel, and the songwriting craft. While some might want more music — there is some — I loved that it was mostly talk about the craft and their histories.

When they did play a little it was with the backing of a top notch band featuring the estimable Allen Toussaint and rock’s great unknown guitar hero, Jame Burton.

Anyway, if you like this kind of stuff, this is a top notch show.

And at 10:30 on Comedy Central, following the always off the charts “South Park,” is “Chocolate News.” David Alan Grier, whom I first know from the always hilarious “In Living Color,” hosts this fake news show. It is irreverent and very very funny. A bracing reminder of the still less than admirable state of race relations in the U.S. of A.. If something’s worth skewing, no matter how politically incorrect, this gang will do it.

Besides, Carolina was ripping Michigan State and Dickie V, who really should, all kidding aside, just simply shut the fuck up, wouldn’t stop shouting.