Category Archives: Entertainment

All That Jazz

What an amazing film.

It’s Oscars season, and various cable networks are showing award winning films from past years. In this case, Turner Classic Movies, and “All That Jazz,” one of my all-time favorite films.

As I do almost every time I see this film at home, especially when the theme is “The Oscar Winners,” I have to check and see why it didn’t win the Best Film award, or why Roy Scheider didn’t win for Best Actor.

Oh. Yeah. THAT year.

“Kramer vs. Kramer” swept a slew of the big awards. Best Picture, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Merryl Streep). Fair enough.

What else was up for Best Picture?

“Norma Rae,” with Sally Field winning Best Actress.

“Breaking Away”

“Apocalypse Now,” which begs the question of how did “Kramer Vs Kramer” beat THAT film??!!

I never saw “All That Jazz” in the theater. Still haven’t, would love to, will have to make a mental note to catch it some art house here in LA.

“Not my kind of film” would have been my first thought having seen just the trailers and previews. I still don’t remember why or how I watched it, I was probably bored and it was the best thing on. I just remember watching it on cable way, way, way back, when HBO was just a wee lad and something of a novelty.

It was okay. I liked it pretty well, but I was confused as hell. Who was the lady in white, played by Jessica Lange? I liked the energy, the weird story, the passion, the music, but I was a little bit lost. But I like weird.

And then…

At the very end, I GOT IT. (Maybe I’m a slow learner. It wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last.)

I had to watch it again from the beginning as soon as possible, knowing now what I hadn’t known the first time through. And I was blown away. And watched it again. And again.

Now it’s one of those films that I’ve seen so many times, but I still see something new every time.

If you’ve seen the film, I hope that you love it as much as I do. If you haven’t, it’s a great time to see it for the first time. It’s wonderful.

It’s Oscars time.

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Presidents Day 2022

With one exception, not a huge fan of any of them in my adult lifetime, and I didn’t need to buy either a new car or a new mattress, so we ignored the holiday and started using the time to catch up on a season and a half of “Star Trek: Discovery.” Time well spent – I’m enjoying it a great deal. We’re current now and looking forward to the last four episodes of Season Four. Next, we have to pick something else to get caught up on. Probably either “Star Trek: Lower Decks” or “The Expanse.”

With significantly less time pressure and an eyeball issue that requires occasional eye drops, the practice of lying down and closing my eyes and relaxing has led to a re-discovery of this “nap” thing.

Mmmmmmmmmm! “Naps!”

I know this isn’t an original thought, but little kids who are “forced” to take naps have no freakin’ clue how good they’ve got it or how much they’re going to miss naps when they’re busy doing “adult shit” eighteen to twenty hours a day.

 

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Yet Another Night At The Theatre!

We’re all masked and vaxxed (and so is everyone else, which I love) so we’re out at the theatre again tonight.

The Ahmanson Theatre, to be exact, to see “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.” I know very little about it, so it will be a surprise!

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Taco Bell And The Morlocks

Sometime in the mid 1960’s, when it was a big freakin’ deal to have a movie shown on TV! It meant either NBC or CBS was showing it in prime time, and I had to finagle permission to stay up past my bedtime. A big hit for me with lots of long-lasting memories was “The Time Machine.” Made by George Pal and starring Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux in 1960, the pre-teen Paul was very impressionable and large parts of the movie scared the crap out of me. (It seems I wasn’t alone.)

What really scared me was when the air raid sirens went off and the peaceful, dull, childlike Eloi all went slack jawed and started marching zombie-like into the caves of the Morlocks, where obviously the Morlocks were going to kill them and eat them. We were living in Kansas City at the time (remember, huge Chiefs fan here!) and tornadoes were not uncommon for about six months of each year. When they got close, the air raid sirens went off to warn folks to take cover. Needless to say, the summers after seeing “The Time Machine” had a whole new interpretation of that!


Skip forward fifty-six or fifty-seven years, to 2022. You’re watching television and a Taco Bell commercial comes on:

  • There’s a beach party, a young lady skips off into the darkness to snog that sexy young dude in the dark. A buoy tips over, causing a “bell” to ring (the signature and no doubt trademarked Taco Bell sound), and your hormonal teenager turns into a zombie, leaves Boy Wonder on the beach wondering what happened, and she marches off to Taco Bell to get something disgusting.
  • A subway platform, a geek dude cosplaying some sort of elf warrior with a shield spies a geek girl with the exact same costume and shield. Their eyes meet, they step toward each other, her shield hits a metal trash can, we hear that “bell” sound, she gets glassy eyed and wanders off to Taco Bell.
  • Two dudes are going for the all-time high score in the universe on Dance Dance Revolution at which point the machine music makes that “bell” sound, they stop mid-game, and head off for some brodude Taco Bell munchies.
  • The high schooler with the purple hair is at the back of the orchestra with a pair of cymbals, waiting for her one big moment, when someone tips over a music stand, it hits the tuba, makes that “bell” sound, and half the orchestra wanders off in search of greasy ground beef and runny fake cheese.

Aside from the fact that I’m not a fan of Taco Bell’s food, all of these examples remind me constantly of one thing – THE ELOI!!! The protagonists in every one of these ads act exactly like the Eloi in “The Time Machine!”

So, Taco Bell’s advertising agency and marketing gurus, look how you’ve made me think of your food!

I’m about to have the romantic, hormonal, passionate night that I’ve always fantasized about and which I’ll remember for the rest of my life – until I turn into an Eloi and march into the Morlocks’ cave to be killed. And YOU’RE the Morlocks!

I’m a lonely geek who’s suddenly found my soulmate, only to have her snatched away into zombieland just feet away from my embrace. And YOU’RE the zombies!

You get the drift.

Obviously, I’m not the target market for these ads, both because of my tastes in food and because of my age (and probably a half-dozen or more other traits), but jeez louise!! Did NO ONE look at these ads and think, “Wait…maybe…”

Or, worse, did they look at it and think, “Whatever! As long as they spend money at our place!”

Go find a taco truck, or a mom & pop style Mexican place with real food. And hoist a margarita and a burrito to Yvette Mimieux, who passed away at age 80 this afternoon.

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The Proverbial Room Where It Happens – Part Two

A couple years ago we saw “Hamilton” in Los Angeles at the legendary Pantages Theater. Then we had tickets to see it again last year, but there was that whole pandemic, quarantine thing

Now we’re all vaxxed and masked (to their credit, they seem to be very aggressive about enforcing that at the Pantages) and the touring cast is back, so it’s our turn to see it again.

The first time we saw it I knew of the hype and the awards and the hubbub – but I had not yet ever listened to the music or gotten caught up in the mania. I had doubts…

Then I saw it.

Oh!! My!! God!! (As they say.)

Now, having seen the Disney production of the live version a dozen or so times, not to mention having listened to the album AT LEAST 100-200 times (no BS, at least once a week for a couple of years), I’m anxious to see how different the viewing experience is this time.

Damn, forgot tissues! We’ll see how absorbent this sweater is, I guess.

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Pollyanna

In my pre-teen days the latest and greatest was COLOR TV! NBC had “The Wonderful World of Disney” (not to be confused with ABC’s “The Wide World of Sports”) which was good, wholesome, family fare for Sunday night. It also helped sell more than a few of those color television sets.

One of the “classics” that we got repeatedly was “Pollyanna.” If we saw it in the theaters in 1960 I don’t remember it (I was only four) but I remember seeing it a couple times a year by the mid-60s. Which was fine – my pre-pubescent little hormones knew something was going on whenever Hayley Mills was on the screen and I was still in Catholic school and a couple years away from the start of my rebel, “they tried to teach me WHAT??!!” phase, so Pollyanna’s upbeat attitude no matter what happened went in one ear, rattled around a bit, and came out the other side none the worse for wear.

(What I didn’t like was my many siblings calling me “Pollyanna,” which came from their usually calling me “Pauley,” which I hate to this day. But what are siblings for if not torturing their older brother?)

This morning I was thinking about one of the themes of the story and one of the related plot devices, the Glad Game. I was having my teeth cleaned and examined (AGAIN!) with more things being found wrong and more poking and prodding and asking, “Does that hurt?” as I levitate three feet above the chair, sort of like Linda Blair with a little paper bib. In addition, laying there with that spotlight they use shining in my eyes, the “temporary” floaters in both eyes now were swimming around like a Busby Berkeley routine, and when trying to hold still my legs were cramping to remind me that they were still there. In that environment, it was tough to find a reason to be glad, just because. But I tried anyway.

I decided that while getting older might be a better alternative that the primary other option (i.e., death) it was starting to get to be a real pain in the ass. And all of the treatments I’m having rammed down my throat (eating better, exercising, losing weight, patience) are not in my wheelhouse. I keep getting told that they’re going to work eventually and the effort will have been worth it, and Pollyanna would no doubt believe that and be on that Peloton bike or climbing that hill every day while eating a granola bar and drinking pressed milkweed juice and singing the whole way.

Pollyanna needs to get real. This sucks.

I’m ready to go anti-Pollyanna. AP. Maybe pronounce it as “ape.” I’m going to “go ape.” The main aspect of which will be that I will be cranky every single day.

I’ll probably keep on doing the eating better, exercising, and losing weight. But I draw the line at “patience.” Enough is enough. Substitute in “cranky” for me.

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From One Spice To Another

Last night I talked about a spicy dinner – tonight my thoughts range to another spice, that of the planet Arrakis.

“Dune” has been a favorite novel since I first read it in high school, probably 1973. In a couple of weeks the new movie version (covering the first half-ish of the novel) comes out and I haven’t waited this anxiously for a movie in a long time. This will be the movie that will get me back into a theater.

Having gotten past one set of deadlines and pressure at work (yeah, me, and the great team that I’m on there) I’m now up to my eyebrows in another killer deadline from Hell at the CAF hangar. No stress…

But as I’ve been working like a demon on this all day today, my attention keeps going to a poster I’ve had on my office whiteboard for a long, long time. For those familiar with “Dune,” obviously, this is the Litany Against Fear.

Fear of failure, fear of shame, fear of embarrassment, fear of being yelled at. All of the above. Powerful motivators.

Today I’m facing some fears.

And soon I’ll be watching the movie.

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Laugh Track

I think my most hated thing on television is the laugh track.

There are shows that I used to find absolutely hilarious. “Two & A Half Men” and “Big Bang Theory” are two good examples. Then I realized that: a) the characters are real assholes, and b) there’s an omnipresent, relentless laugh track. It’s not a spritz of a couple chuckles here and a hint of a few guffaws there. Nope, it’s like being rolled over by a 250 ton Laughter Express bus and squished flat like a bug.

Once you have that switch flipped in your brain, once your perception has been re-tuned… Well, you’ll never watch it again.

Some favorite shows still have laugh tracks, but they handle it differently. “M*A*S*H” for example never ever has a laugh track during the scenes in surgery or with incoming patients. It really makes a difference.

On the other hand, while an episode of “Friends” was on last night and I walked into the room, the laugh track mugged me, stole my wallet and watch, and left me bleeding in the gutter. It was like swimming with piranhas. The worst part once I was being inundated was again realizing that: a) the characters are ALL real assholes, and b) they weren’t saying ANYTHING funny. There wasn’t even the slightest one-liner even approaching “borderline humorous,” but the laugh track would have us thinking that the funniest joke in the history of mankind had just been uttered. But if your brain can filter out the laugh track but still listen to the dialogue you can hear the “posturing one liner,” brief pause with medium laughter, response to set up the “joke,” brief pause with light laughter, punchline delivered in character from a self-centered, annoying jerk, longer pause with 100% over the top levels of laughter, rinse and repeat ad nauseum. But, again, if you could cut out the rest and just listen to the dialogue, it’s moronic and annoying.

That might be my standard moving forward. A laugh track might be an instant deal killer for any new show.

You know what show never had a laugh track but still had me laughing every show? And crying? And singing along? “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” that’s which show. It’s a freaking CRIME that it was cancelled!

[Insert laugh track here!]

 

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“Zoey’s” Marathon Tomorrow On E! Network

I mentioned this after the second season finale of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” aired a couple weeks ago – tomorrow there’s a marathon of all of the first two season’s shows, starting at 09:00 PDT (noon EDT).

If you’re looking for something truly astonishing to watch, make the effort. (I think it’s also available on Hulu just about any time.) It’s the best television show in years and years and years. As in, in my not-so-humble opinion, on a par with shows like “West Wing,” “M*A*S*H,” and “The Good Place.”

If you have a soul, tissues will be required frequently. And that’s SUCH a good thing!

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Second Season Finale

I’m sure I’ve ranted at you from time to time over the past two years about my favorite new television show in forever, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” I will do so again tonight.

It was the second season finale and the writers and actors and crew and everyone were hitting on all cylinders, with a final scene “mike drop” that has my head spinning. It was WONDERFUL!!!

Fantastic music – once we get a couple bars in and I realize what the song is, the “heart songs” are almost always perfect for the scene and the characters. Characters that you just want to have be your best friends. Plotting and story lines that suddenly just all fall together and you want to cry and scream and it’s like that moment at the end of “The Sixth Sense,” or even better, “The Arrival.” Amazing choreography and dance scenes.

There’s no word on whether or not the show will be picked up for a third season, but if there’s an ounce of good and justice left in the world (and I know, just look at the freakin’ headlines for the last two years and don’t get me started, but still, without hope…) it will get renewed. The NBC “upfront” conference is supposed to be tomorrow morning, so we may know more tomorrow.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t listened to my incredibly well-informed opinions of the show so far, you can catch it on the Peacock streaming service and they said something tonight in the commercials about a marathon showing of the first two seasons on the E! Network on the next few weeks. I can’t think of a better way to spend twenty-four hours.

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