HBO replayed what I’ve always thought is the best drama ever, “The Wire,” over five consecutive days during the holidays. In HD.
So, I watched with a critical eye.
I tend to pontificate when it comes to consideration of this examination of life in Baltimore, so good have I considered after two viewings in years past all the way through, five seasons worth. I felt I needed to check my perspective.
And, after savoring most of it again last week, I came to a different conclusion.
Or do others of you find that redhead in the Wendy’s commercials, THE MOST ANNOYING PERSON EVER ON TELEVISION?
Not to shout or anything.
I am a mild mannered guy. I respect women, and loathe the thought of physical violence. Yet, when she comes on in one of those commercials, I have the urge to slap her across the face with the back of my hand.
Yes, I know it’s my issue. But, boy oh boy, does she get on my nerves.
Her name, by the by, is Morgan Smith. She’s from Cullman, Alabama, and has done a lot of work in the theater.
Which leads me to believe that’s not her true personality in those advertisements. Thus, making me wonder why the ad agency and producers of the commercials would want her to be such a cloying, know-it-all? Read the rest of this entry »
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” has not always been an easy watch for me.
Not that I don’t think that Larry David’s alter cocker Jewish humor isn’t funny. I do.
It’s just that way too many episodes are just like my life: David, Bill and I watching a ballgame together. Or going out to dinner, either with our significant others or just the guys. It’s like this is me, didn’t I just live this out yesterday watching U of L play?
Old Jewish guys giving each other shit, switching triangulations, complaining about customer service at the florist or our aches and pains du jour. Read the rest of this entry »
You don’t need a weatherman/ To know which way the wind blows
My guess is that many of you, sitting in your basements last night, perhaps wearing that toy hardhat you got when renovating your house, with your flashlights, a week’s supply of bottled water, and your cat scurrying about, investigating every dank nook and cranny, might have wondered why such the attention to Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday?
Or, probably not.
But the guy did cut a phrase appropriate for any occasion.
Be glad I spared you the entirety of “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”
I was down in the cellar last night. With family and lanterns and dog in her favorite chair lugged down there and cat scurrying about, investigating every nook and cranny. And radio, turned to the weather. And TV, tuned to the weather. Read the rest of this entry »
Not being part of the TV critic’s cognoscenti, I’ve only seen the one premier episode like the rest of the world.
So the first question — and a legit one at that — is whether it’s fair to judge this much hyped HBO prohibition-era gangster saga, based on that single episode?
Since when has a single such sampling stopped somebody with an opinion and Word Press in this contemporary age of instant gratification, instant response, instant judgement?
Considering myself an observer of some discernment, I shall refrain totally damning “Boardwalk Empire” solely on the basis of its lame inaugural episode. But I’ll tell ya, I know “The Sopranos.” I know “Only in America.” I know “The Godfather Saga.” I know “The Wire.” So far, even with Mahatma Martin Scorcese in the director’s chair, “Boardwalk Empire” you couldn’t shine those other series’ shoes.
And it’s obvious from the star maker machinery that’s been in place, from the PR anschluss heralding the recreation in exactitude of the era’s Atlantic City boardwalk on a Brooklyn back lot, that HBO is looking for a redux of “Deadwood,” the return of Paulie Walnuts and Omar Little combined.
So much so, that the series teases us in the opener with the quickest of cameos by Michael K. Williams, the actor who played the beguiling Omar in “The Wire.” He’s sitting in an ante room, awaiting an audience with Nucky Thompson, the centerpiece crime kingpin of the series, played inappropriately by the eminently talented but woefully miscast Steve Buscemi. Williams’ character here — called cleverly Chalky White — has a single line which has absolutely no resonance with anything else in the episode.
As for Buscemi? Carl Showalter in “Fargo?” Absolutely. Donny Kerabatsos in “The Big Lebowski?” Of course. But a powerful, duplicitous, bootlegging but upstanding citizen of Atlantic City around which an entire series is being fashioned? Uh, I don’t think so. At least, not yet.
And that’s just one of the flaws that plagued the premiere. Hokey, trite dialog is another. Also, trying too hard for period authenticity to the point where the sets looked like some curio.
To me, the characters almost to a man and woman seemed one-dimensional caricatures from the start.
Then there’s the pseudo-hipness, best exemplified by a Corleonesqueish scene where bad stuff is going contemporaneously with a vaudeville comedian’s show, in which he’s regaling an audience with “my wife is so dumb” jokes.
Have I given up entirely on “Boardwalk Empire?”
Probably not. I’m sure I’ll watch another episode or two, hoping it gets a hum going.
The premiere was a colossal disappointment, if you ask me.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is now forty years on, and grooving as strong as ever. As we do, my krewe and I made it down for opening weekend. It was my 23d JazzFest, including 21 of the last 22. (For a primer on JazzFest and Quint Davis, the festival’s long-time major domo, you can read this article from the New Orleans newspaper.
It is a rite of spring. It is, as somebody far more poetic than myself once articulated, “the gravitational pull of my year.”
The first two albums I ever owned were recorded in New Orleans. “Here’s Little Richard” and a Fats Domino album, the title of which I’ve long forgotten. Fats and I share a birthday. There is something about the music of this town, and the city itself, flawed and fantastic, that cut through to my soul. I’d explain further, but I simply cannot.
It’s halftime of the Pitt/ Villanova game. Do we get to laugh at the stupid commentary of Greg Anthony and Seth Davis (who is really Billy Packer after Extreme Makeover Tournament Edition)? Do we get to see an interview with maybe The Rick or Roy Williams? Do we some stats?
Of course not.
We get Jay “Boy Do I Like To Hear My Self Talk And See Myself In The Monitor” Cardosi, bellowing about some possible tornado warnings miles south of the Metro Area.
Now don’t get me wrong. Advising people of severe weather is a good thing. But when you’re telecasting on several stations, you can let Jay Cardosi blather away on one and run a crawl under the others, advising people they click over for more important info.
But Noooooooooooooooo! There’s Jay Cardosi blabbering ad nauseum, saying the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over . . .
This happened on the last day of the regular season during the Duke/ Carolina game. I know the station heard from folks, because I personally know 23,974 people who called or emailed. Did WLKY-32 learn from that lesson?
Here’s what I’d like to say to WLKY weather guru Jay Cardosi: Shut up!
Listen I like to be apprised of bad weather on the horizon as much as the next guy. And I’ll admit to being fascinated by many of the technological gadgets and gizmos these TV stations use to entice us to their coverage.
Buuuuuuuuuuuut . . . we’re talking Carolina vs Duke this Sunday afternoon. What I’m getting is the game in about a one inch square box in the corner of my 42″ HDTV. Sometimes that gamecast is partially covered by yet another indecipherable weather graphic. That I shouldn’t — come on Jay, say it to me one mo’ time — “I shouldn’t let my guard down” has been hammered home every fifteen seconds.
(Jay, you’d be better off giving that advice to the Blue Devils, who, if I can decipher the tiny writing on my screen are down six with less than 8:00 to go.) Read the rest of this entry »
So, of course, the Film Babe and I went to a party which good friends’ host annually for the Super Bowl. What, you think we’re not patriotic or something?
Lots of bon homie. Three kinds of chili. The requisite guacamole and chips. Joanie’s to die for Italian Creme Cake with strawberry cream chees icing, and some lesser desserts. Some guys watched the golf tournament on one TV before kickoff. Others talked b-ball. The women mingled mostly among themselves.
It was good friends, good feedbag, good football. And Bruce.
Love him or not, Bruce Springsteen has always been the most seminal of rock & rollers. He’s a traditionalist, his best music emanating from Jersey’s blue collar streets, the folk tradition and Top 40 radio into rollicking anthems.
I’m not hear to critique his 12 minute halftime onslaught. I’ll leave that to critics who find it a necessary task. What I know is everyone at our party gathered. And enjoyed. Hey, how about that crotch shot.
And today I went to youtube.com to see if I could find a fitting version of my pick as rock’s greatest song, the one that embodies the teenage hope, melancholy, lust and verve that are the bases of rock & roll. And I did. Let me share it with you now.
You don’t need me to tell you yet again how despicable the outgoing president and his let-them-eat-cake administration have been. I’m not alone. And it’s not just partisans who now realize what a revolting development W’s eight years in office turned out to be.
I shan’t dwell on it. In 48 hours, W will be free to crony up with oil buddies every day for lunch without having to worry about a country to lead. He can concentrate on spring training without silly old position papers to attempt to digest. It’ll be a good thing for him. A better thing for the rest of us.
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.
In this stunning, never-ending presidential campaign, it was a moment that resonated as both its most endearing and its most dispiriting.
If you haven’t seen the snippets of John McCain’s appearance on SNL last Saturday, just three days before the election, do yourself a favor. Check ‘em out at nbc.com.
The opening segment where McCain and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin are pitching at QVC is genius satire. Cindy McCain, bless her stoic, shrewish heart, even shows up and mugs for the camera in her own very measured way.
That McCain, who by all accounts will lose the election, would come on this stage and make fun of himself and the whole process says a lot about the man. It shows that he is decent and self effacing. It shows how much he chose or was forced or convinced to sublimate those instincts of decency in order to try to get elected. (To his credit, when running mate Sarah Palin’s incendiary attacks against Obama started to get vicious, McCain reigned in her diatribe and vitriol as well as his own.) Read the rest of this entry »