“Natalie Wood – What Remains Behind”: Film Review/Podcast

Posted: May 10th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

It was the time of Marilyn. Monroe, if you need to be spoon fed.

But the Hollywood star who always got to me during my teenage years was Natalie Wood.

Not only was she a really fine actor, who gave the world any number of strong, iconic cinematic performances.

But she was a very smart, most interesting person.

And, as is underscored in the new HBO documentary, “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind,” she was a doting mother, who was willing to set career aside when need be to be there for her children.

This doc, as one figured it would, gets around to her untimely demise, her drowning off Catalina Island. Enough with that already.

But it also sets out that she should be remembered for much more than that.

For further details and discussion of the recommended documentary, listen to the podcast below.

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan

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The Night I Said No to Little Richard

Posted: May 9th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Personalities | 2 Comments »

Of the Founding Fathers of Rock & Roll, the quintet whose mugs would be on Mount Rushmore, two were frankly more incendiary than the rest.

It’s not that Elvis, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley weren’t rockin’ and rollin’ in a totally new fashion in the mid 50s.

It’s just that the music of the other two blasted from the tinny speaker of the 7 transistor portable radio I got for my Bar Mitzvah, the device I could put in my bike basket, and thereby take my life’s preferred soundtrack with me wherever I roamed.

One was Jerry Lee Lewis.

When you’re 12 years old and you hear “Great Balls of Fire,” you turn to your pal and scream, “Holy shit, did you hear what he just sang?”

To get a sense of how raucous Jerry Lee could be, youtube his ’64 concert at the Star Club in Hamburg.

(Aside: That Jerry Lee Lewis is the last of those Founding Fathers standing is one of the wonders of the universe.)

The other who pushed the boundaries of the new teen culture to other dimensions was Little Richard. RIP.

His songs propelled. They were insistent. They were outrageous. Read the rest of this entry »


Diversion Tip: NYT Short Film of the Day

Posted: May 7th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Ruminations | No Comments »

Who among us, in these oh so strange and perilous times, isn’t looking for some little way to escape?

If only for a moment or two.

I mean really, how much hard news can a person take?

If you’re looking for live sports, there’s Korean baseball, played in front of empty stands, but the fascination grows old quickly.

Netflix. Prime. Hulu. Criterion.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But there come times during the day when you just want a quick shot, a respite from real life concerns, a mask free interlude, and move on.

So here’s one I discovered that fills that bill, the New York Times Short Film of the Day.

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Some examples.

Today’s (Thursday 5/07) is a clever Oscar nominated confection that’s less than two minutes long.

Yesterday’s was a smile-inducing bit of shtick from mid 20th C.

A couple more for your viewing pleasure: Read the rest of this entry »


“Unorthodox”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: May 4th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

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There’s a certain fascination with strict cultures around the globe, where stringent ways of living have been passed down by the elders through the centuries in order that a homogeneous society will be maintained.

Arranged marriages.

An abundance of rituals.

In modern times, it often chafes at the younger members born into the culture in a freer world.

This is a four part Netflix series based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, who felt it necessary to escape a Hasidic community in Brooklyn.

Some liberties are taken in the series, but it remains a fascinating and compelling watch.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

More JazzFest Musical Memories

Posted: May 2nd, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | No Comments »

Realizing it’s truly an impossible task — sharing my “favorite” JazzFest musical moments that is — I’ve decided to take a different tack for this last take on JazzFest for this year.

Because, I love it all. Even the days when I can hear umpteen different performers and none really grab on and don’t let go.

As I always say, that’s why I keep coming back. From day to day. From year to year. Even now in 2020, when I can only experience the event via WWOZ’s JazzFesting in Place.

So, here’s some quick mentions of some regulars, and I’ll give it up for this time around.

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Have I mentioned how much I cherish Allen Toussaint?

Duh, like only a gazillion times.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with He Who Is My Favorite New Orleans Musical Icon, my favorite musical icon period.

When still alive, Toussaint, except maybe way back in the day, never had a regular band that gigged together all the time, that toured. He was, until Katrina for sure, mostly a writer, producer, arranger. But a sometimes performer.

So, at his annual JazzFest sets, his ensemble was always a put together outfit. The upper echelon of NO players, of course, Men and women who have played with him through the decades. But, not playing regularly, the groups were often not as tight as one might hope.

Plus, his singing voice, never anything truly special, diminished over time.

But ya know, it was always Allen Toussaint with his incredible presence that bridged the gap between dapper and dazzle, and his sweet persona, and his amazing songs and charts. Read the rest of this entry »


Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Trois

Posted: April 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music | No Comments »

There’s a chat room where JazzFest obsessives like myself hang out.

For the acolytes, the Jazz Fest Forum  is a year round thing.

The denizens are called Threadheads, and most seem to know each other from hookups during Fest. Or otherwise. Liuzza’s seems to be the official unofficial meeting place. They also have a party every year during Fest called the Patry. With boffo lineups.

I’m sort of an outlier, an auxiliary Threadhead if you will, having come to the dialog later than most of the regulars. On the way to the Fest a few years back, in the Charlotte airport, I did meet a couple that helped start the Forum. And there’s the NRBQ-loving regular I chatted up a couple years ago between acts at the Gentilly Stage.

It’s a year round deal, but, as you can imagine, conversations ratchet up with the lineup announcement in January, and the posting of the Cubes a month out.

One of the regular threads will deal with lesser known, obscure acts that somebody’s heard in concert with a hearty “You gotta hear this group.”

I check them all out on youtube before making my daily plans. Weeks in advance, I must admit. Plus, disciple that I am, I also check out the ones I don’t know that might not have been recommended.

Which brings to my favorite tip of recent years . . .

. . . Bombino. Read the rest of this entry »


“Bad Education”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: April 29th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

It must be acknowledged that a tale of high school administrators embezzling money from a school system is not the most compelling or sexiest of topics.

To fashion an engaging movie from such a scenario takes serious craft.

Which director Cody Finley and writer Mike Makowsky have accomplished in the HBO Original, “Bad Education.”

Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney excellently portray the real life Frank Tassone and Pam Gluckin. Who a few decades ago were beloved by a Long Island school system, at the same time they were stealing millions of dollars from the system’s coffers.

They were outed by the high school newspaper.

“Bad Education” lays out the whole situation in an appealing way. Really good acting make that happen.

For more on this film, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

My Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Deux

Posted: April 26th, 2020 | Filed under: JazzFest, Music, New Orleans, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

Oh my, the power of suggestion.

As I write this Saturday afternoon, I’m listening to old JazzFest classic sets at WWOZ.org, which the station will be streaming again Sunday the 26th, and next Thursday through Sunday, noon to 8:00 EDT.

Today’s sumptuous slate opened with Bonerama, which as I write I am confirming to myself might be my favorite of the current New Orleans fusion maestros. (I’d like to more definitive, but, my ears are easily turned, faves change on a whim.)

You know Bonerama’s like funk and rock and some second line Longhairish rumba, all fronted by — Ready for it? — a trio of trombones. Which they play straight up or synthesized.

I mean, ya know, it’s New Orleans. Where else?

And, listening to them open today with “Big Chief,” reminded me of a favorite JF musical moment I’d forgotten. Read the rest of this entry »


My JazzFest Musical Memories: Podcast, Part I

Posted: April 23rd, 2020 | Filed under: Music, New Orleans | No Comments »

I have made it through the first day of what should have been JazzFest without JazzFest, my first time not being there since . . . 1991.

Thanks to WWOZ, New Orleans’ amazing public radio music channel, I spent the day listening to streaming of sets from past decades.

Like from 1973, Ella Fitzgerald dueting with Stevie Wonder on “You Are The Sunshine of My Life.”

Or Tab Benoit’s sweet cover of Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes The Place of You.”

So, I’m a bit calmer now than I was previously this week, while suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.

Anyway, here’s the first podcast of several (I hope) sharing my favorite JazzFest musical moments through the decades.

Audio MP3

Knowing What It Means To Miss New Orleans

Posted: April 19th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | 3 Comments »

Already consumed with the stark reality that my upcoming week was going to be considerably different than planned, I did not need a reminder.

There it was nonetheless when I sat down at my computer Sunday morning.

The Reminder: JazzFest tomorrow.

Sigh.

Not that my favorite thing to do in life, the gravitational pull of my year, started Monday. The festival wouldn’t have begun until 11:00 in the morning Thursday.

Just sayin’. Hearing some hot New Orleans outfit, like, say, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, or Flow Tribe, before noon on a workday, while savoring a frozen latte, is among life’s most endearing pleasures.

But Monday’s the day I start the trek down. At least since I’ve been driving instead of flying. No matter to explain, but I’ve got my reasons, and it works for me.

Stay overnight along the way in Mississippi. Get to the Crescent City around noon Tuesday. Check in and let the burg’s quintessential vibe wash over me. Take a jog through the Quarter. Dine with long time pals that night at, say, Clancy’s or GW Fins. Read the rest of this entry »


“Run”: Review & Podcast

Posted: April 16th, 2020 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, for whom everything she touches these days turns to gold, is back at it.

This time as executive producer of a Sunday night HBO series, called “Run.”

Intriguing premise, here.

College sweeties move on with separate lives after graduation, but vow to reconnect and rendezvous immediately at a designated time and place, should one text “Run” to the other, with the same one word reply.

So Ruby and Billy abandon their current lives, and find themselves on an Amtrak heading west out of Grand Central Station.

The well-played, well-conceived opening episode sucked me in.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

 

Audio MP3

“Somebody Feed Phil”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: April 12th, 2020 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, Food, TV | 3 Comments »

This is the kind of gig I’d love to have.

Getting sent to major cities around the globe, hanging with the cool crowd, eating at the best restaurants, while cracking jokes.

Phil Rosenthal is the Man.

“Somebody Feed Phil” is the Netflix series, where we get to watch him live the life.

One of the episodes is his visit to New Orleans, which you may noticed is my favorite place to dine. And where I would be next week for JazzFest and feasting, but for you know what.

Anyway, listen to the podcast below for more on the show, and how I reacted when Phil was eating my favorite dish, Chicken a la Grande, at my favorite restaurant, Mosca’s.

Audio MP3