Where I work.
Other Broadcasting System (OBS)
Questions for Billy Joel
If I ever met Billy Joel, I’d hope I could ask him a few questions such as these. My fear is, that after two or three questions, he would get annoyed with my complete ignorance, and/or lack of sensitivity to greatness, then walk out:
- Who was your favorite guest act? Who would be your favorite guest if it could somehow ever be arranged, like if they were beyond the grave, or your schedules always conflicted, or both?
- Your top three albums are: The Stranger, 52nd Street, and The Bridge, in that order? Why was Nylon Curtain made?
- Has fame changed you for the better or for the worse? Do you have any advice for someone who was on the cusp of blogging greatness?
- When you did become famous, how long did you expect this fame to last? Was fame a personal, life goal of yours that you actively pursued?
- Why do you like Celine Dion more than booming Babs, Barbara Streisand? I don’t mean to put words into your mouth, or maybe I do. The last note of a phrase is the deciding factor. Babs doesn’t hold the note. She just drops it, without any lyrically-interpretive, soulful articulation. How rude is it to step on the notes of those you’re dueting with, like Babs is doing here, in the Youtube clip? Streisand is a White woman, without one iota of soul. She cannot sing from the heart.
- Why do you think Joni Mitchell didn’t have the career she deserved? If she did, why are you doing a residency at Madison Square Garden, and she hasn’t, isn’t, and won’t? How might you compare your music with hers? (True, her health hasn’t been too good, smoking cigarettes really damaged her singing career.)
- The Grateful Dead did a song called Friend of the Devil that sounds phenomenal on vinyl, but if you play its sheet music on piano, it sounds incredibly weak. Why might this be? Why are there guitar songs, and piano songs, and never the twain shall meet?
- Governor Andrew Cuomo is a very good friend of yours, he is the godfather to one of your children. Is he a much better guy in person, than he is when he overreacts to COVID-19, and shuts down New York State indefinitely? My impression is that he’s like the Grinch who stole Christmas, if Christmas was your thing. ;)
- Is there any song of yours that you held off singing in concert? Do you have one song in your repertoire that is the rock and roll equivalent of a Hail Mary? Is there a tune so difficult to pull off under game conditions that it's only heard on vinyl? You're down by ten and the clock is running out. Are there songs for times like that? Or you're a musician, there is never any uncertainty in song execution. You’re not desperate for the equalizer? Lebron James has a hook, at half-court, from three-point land, at the buzzer; or Tom Brady of the New England Patriots tries to put together a last-minute drive? You have your Super Bowl, Championship Finals, every month at your Garden residency? You walk onto the stage and it’s now or never, do or die?
- If you had a singing face-off between you and Audra McDonald, why would you end up eating dirt? What do singers capable of operatic performances possess that pop singers don’t? A wider range, they can hold notes longer? No, there is nothing further from the truth? You could sing Il Traviata if invited to the Metropolitan Opera, and Audra could sing Only the Good die Young at the Garden, it would just sound a little different than expected? Before you cry in your beer, Bill, she is an operatic singer only. You’re a quadruple threat: a vocalist, a pianist, a lyricist, and a composer.
- Does the final note of a phrase or lyric define that lyric? In other words, does the end of a phrase carry more weight, or meaning, than the rest of that lyric? Does the ending note inform, or significantly substantiate, the notes preceding it?
- Have you ever performed a duet with Bono? How were you so fortunate to escape that painful drudgery?
- Have you ever performed a version of The Ballad of Billy the Kid, where he survives at the end?
- Who needs an A & R person? Your repertoire is so solid, why would you need an artist and repertoire guy? A & R is for newbies? As a vastly experienced veteran of over a hundred world tours, you need the record company to burn the DVD, then print the label on it, and nothing else?
- How much do you hate Mick Jagger? Taking down The Verve on a whim, made it easy for the Mick to write young-adult classic, Sympathy for the Devil. Carly Simon wrote a song just for Mick Jagger. He’s so what again? His girlfriend committed suicide, but isn’t rock and roll — especially on pretentious I ♥ Radio, Lite 1067, and Q1043, all operating out of New York — all about misogyny, and taking down the unsuspecting.
- Most often, is the vocal track split between the left and right channel, while instrumentation gets a unique channel? Remember Who’s Quadrophenia — how could you ever forget? (My sentiments exactly.) Could that play on a quadraphonic receiver? Quadraphonic sound has pretty much tanked? Your audio equipment must be the greatest on earth. Which manufacturer do you like for stereos? Please say Radio Shack. Okay, they left that product line ages ago...
- Are your fans permitted to enjoy other artists just as much? Do you have Deadhead fans? You like the Dead until they head into mind-numbing jams? (My sentiments exactly.)
- Is melody a much more complex skill than playing rhythm? Does Ringo Starr, the drummer of Beatles fame, get to stay on the Island, or does he get kicked off?
- This has really been weighing on me for a long time: Who is the better Fleetwood Mac singer, Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie? Of those two, who is the better musician, including composing chops? My take is that Nicks rose to prominence in part because of her looks.
- Can most pop stars play from sheet music? Can someone be very talented in the field and not read it? Michael Jackson, say, was he going without sheet music? Does not understanding musical notation hold back careers in music?
- Are rap “artists” musicians, or is the whole rap genre a bastardization of music? It’s just ghetto chant, and a scourge over the modern music scene, isn’t it? Hasn’t all that god-awful rapping become the way to get out of the slum, just like boxing once was? Jay-Z and Kanye need to be apprised of this knowledge. (A jay puts Jay-Z to sleep? Isn’t it supposed to? Why did he name himself after a drug side effect?)
- Are you familiar with the music of the Grateful Dead? What is your opinion of them?
- What do you think of Steve Winwood’s chops? How about Rod Stewart, and his choice of material? How difficult would it be for someone like you to tell if an artist was writing their own material or not?
- How talented is Taylor Swift? Will she be making albums for a long, long, time, or will she be looking to cash out after one or two more break-up songs? Does she ever lip sync? Only when she did half time at the Super Bowl that year? If the whole music biz thing doesn’t work out for her, and she has too many legal entanglements with managers, she should just get into modeling?
- Are guitarists on a par with pianists? Why aren’t they?
- Were you aware that Meryl Streep overacts?
- Why is listening to rap music worse than scratching your nails on a blackboard? Rappers like Kanye West will never learn music theory because their brains are fried by long term drug abuse, or because of brains clouded with passion for Baby Jesus? Why can’t Kanye be more like the supreme musician, Marvin Gaye?
- What happened between you and the uptown girl, Christie Brinkley? She’s strong-willed, isn’t she? Is this none of my business?
- Most musicians have a long term, love-hate relationship with drugs. Your vice was limited to tobacco??
- Have you ever considered a Who, Keith Moon-style drummer to liven up Just the Way You Are? Power quartets don’t make many listenable, power ballads, do they?
Gwynnie Paltrow scans shortwave? Tell me more.
I am very satisfied with my recent, $160 purchase, the Tecsun, PL-880, AM/FM/SW portable radio. For $14, I also bought a Sangean, Portable Shortwave Antenna, the ANT 60. This is clipped to the telescoping antenna, and is an inexpensive upgrade. Since I sound like I’m promoting this shortwave radio (but have never received a dime from either Sangean or Tecsun), I feel I should offer a few tips for those of us playing the Other Letter Home Game, having actually bought the Tecsun PL-880.
I know I sound like I’m a commercial endorser of Tecsun. I’m not one yet, but I would really like to be one, so I have my publicist flying to Taiwan, where Tecsun has their headquarters. They will be discussing how I can position their product on my website. I’m sure that they would love to advertise with the global leader in anti-Christian ideology. The maverick thinking here is the real draw. Any advertiser wants a first class seat on the gravy train ending the reign of Baby Jesus, because it attracts high-end, technofile, gearheads like magnets...
- Radio and scanners powered by battery or Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), are your only options to stay apprised of matters in a power outage.
- Just heard this on my police scanner: “All points bulletin! We got ourselves a spitter! No face mask! Apprehend this deviant by any means necessary! Dead or alive!” (I’m not talking about my county police, I’m talking about a hypothetical police force — or I think I am.)
- To get the most from your shortwave band on the Tecsun, first, hold down the “A ∨” to scan for a new list of shortwave broadcasters. Then select memory preset (and not frequency) browse by pressing the “VF/VM | Scan”. Next, hold down the same key, and it will scan every preset the automatic scanning function just found (and not scan every frequency). Press the button again once you find a station you like among your new presets. Millions of Tecsun owners just rejoiced in radio enlightenment. Oh, never mind.
- If you went ahead and purchased the Tecsun described above, you’ll want to use the “AM BW” switch (AM bandwidth) while listening to AM. Press it several times to toggle incrementally between 2.5 and 9.0kHz of bandwidth. I prefer the 9.0kHz setting because it maximizes the audio information available to be amplified by the receiver. You might minimize the bandwidth to 2.5kHz if there are two stations transmitting with very similar frequencies, right on top of one another. Try adjusting it while you listen and you’ll see a significant improvement in fidelity with 9.0 kHz.
- I just picked up a pristine signal from CHML in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on 900kHz. There is a theory among radio buffs that the clearest signals wend their way through the ether into your receiver’s antenna when the listener is not conflicted with day-to-day drudgery. This explains why advertising is static, the listener is not receptive to receiving it, so their brain waves effectively block its final transmission. I sent a voice mail to Gwynnie Paltrow of Goop Labs about this phenomenon. She has yet to return my call but this is right up her alley. Gwynnie, you’re a regular reader of this shortwave page, why not tell your crackerjack team of scientists to do research isolating the cause of the clear reception? This would prove my theorem and put you on the science map. Their specialty is as metaphysicians, so how can they resist this hard science project? Give them a set of tin-foil caps and they’ll be all set to go.
- The other theory that I’ll have Gwynnie investigate with her team of metaphysicians, is if the quality of the programming being transmitted decides how clear the signal is. Tonight, CHML in Ontario was on a roll. They were talking about Canadian slang (a two-four is a somehow needed, 24-pack of beer), Toronto Leafs tickets for $300 to $400 a pop, they were firing on all cylinders. Of course, the signal was great, how could it not be? So on their end, with superior radio programming, it was propagating exceptionally well wending through the ether, and it was being picked up by receptive listeners Stateside on Long Island. Gwynnie lives for these investigations, now, if she’ll only return my calls. (Her phone number is on the Internet, you just need to look really hard.)
- QSL Card of the day: 9420kHz, 8PM EDT, 10/30/19, Cairo, Egypt, good to excellent signal strength. If you have any interest in world music, specifically Middle Eastern music, they play it here. Most surprising is that what you might call snake-charming music isn’t followed by Taylor Swift’s latest, greatest. It’s only snake-charming music, there isn’t any Taylor Swift in this world. Snake-charming music really belittles the genre. It is much different from Western music. Western music does seem much more driven by time-based, pounding rhythms. This music just undulates according to its own timeless rhythms. Is this the land that time has thankfully forgotten?
- Using a police scanner, you may or may not be able to actually listen to police calls. Nassau County, the county next door to my Suffolk County, scrambles their police communications. I read about this in Long Island’s newspaper, Newsday. The issue was raised when a police officer was busted for selling radios capable of encrypted communication to tow truck companies. The black market for these is easy to understand: Tow trucks make much more money if they quickly know where the accidents just happened. On my police scanner, I have heard police communications (anything with a “10-4,” or an okay sign, is likely to be a police transmission). Does this mean that Suffolk doesn’t encrypt? I’m not a cop, so how the Hell should I know? If this entire discussion sounds illegal to you, and that I’m somehow tipping off criminals by letting them know how police scanners work, well then, you’re wrong. A law enforcement communication system cannot allow casual police scanner listening to pick up cops en route to criminal activity. Or maybe it can, and the police have no clue what they’re doing, because they don’t have any understanding of encrypted communications. Then why do I even bother having an interest in these matters? I’ll answer that question with another one: How many shows on television are about the police, and how many are about being having some lame, desk job? Satisfying our curiosity is a criminal offense?...
- While we’re at it, if you want to learn what real hackers do, with tales from their frontlines, it’s in the legal, and well-established publication, 2600. I’m not a bad influence, if anyone has an interest in something, why can’t they explore it? Morality is decided internally, only in totalitarian states is it decided externally.
- WRMI, Radio Miami International, can be heard on the 9,395 kHz frequency of your short wave radio band. I pick up their signal fairly clearly from Long Island at night (without an outdoor antenna, or a whip antenna extender). They have an interesting, eclectic play list with music from the Seventies and Eighties. The Christian programming listed for certain times is terrible, but we’re working on a fix.
- I picked up some interesting chit-chat from Chicago on the ham radio band of my scanner (near 440 megahertz). They have been getting the brunt of the polar vortex, and it’s actually been colder there than at the North Pole, or even on the planet Mars. Anyhow, this Chicagoan said the deep chill is over there. So how cold is it there now? It’s a balmy 12° Fahrenheit. Then what qualified as the deep chill in Chicago? He said negative double digits, or below minus 10° Fahrenheit...
You have to look at the plus side. When snow is this new, dry, and puffy, what they do there is remove the snow with a leaf blower... 2/01/19.
- Gwynnie and I were just having this discussion over Seafood Risotto at Le Place in Malibu’s Historic District. The Tecsun that I enthusiastically plug has a toggle switch on the left that has three positions: DX (aka long distance); Normal; and Local. If you’re scanning the Short Wave band, be sure to set this toggle for DX, it will make a significant difference in reception... In fact, do this for DX’ing AM stations at night like 1100 AM, WTAM, in Cleveland, Ohio, and 900 AM, CHML, in Hamilton, Ontario... Nowadays, I always keep it set at DX, but I’m a rebel.
- Gwynnie and me were listening to the short wave radio, and we came across Radio Viet Nam (her husband, the enviable TV producer, Chadley Doolittle, was in Moscow, away on business). The Vietnamese must have repeated the phrase, “young intellectuals,” over half a dozen times. This is what they aspire towards, being knowledgeable, while their anti-intellectual, American counterparts mostly want to get rich quick selling junk, be it stocks, over-priced, luxury sports cars, or real estate (like Trump). Gwynnie mused: “I wouldn't be surprised if one day they get back at us for the Vietnamese War. I mean can you imagine strafing machine gun bullets over Malibu, and napalming the Brentwood Country Mart. I mean, can you imagine?” I let this sink in for a minute, and said, “Yes, Gwynnie, I can, I can imagine.”
- The Amateur Band has interesting broadcasts a scanner can receive. Ham radio operators set up chat rooms where they talk about any and all topics, although they do tend to favor tech talk. On Long Island, I’ve heard ham operators from as far away as Las Vegas, and even Hawaii. Near noon is a good time to receive these broadcasts. The amateur band covers several active, smaller bands, especially around 440 megahertz, although it goes from 50 MHZ up to 1,200 MHZ (FM stereo reception for, say, music, is 88.1 MHZ to 107.9 MHZ).
- Here are some quick pointers on the Radio Shack PRO-97. This model has been discontinued for several years, but this explains key features of any scanner. Use the SRCH function to find stations to preset (like car radio presets). Press F, then ENT twice, to store any channel you receive. Next, press SCAN to cycle through the presets you just created. On the PRO-97, F, then 7, sets up an automatic five second delay for your searches until they look for the next broadcasting channel. L/OUT locks out channels that have high-pitched “dog whistles.” I would use this sparingly, because later these may broadcast people’s voices, but you just locked them out.
- You may be wondering if the scanner has any utility outside of researching a career in being a first responder. Well, if you are a writer, you get glimpses of the lives of others, albeit possibly those in cardiac arrest. Plus, just recently, a plane crash landed in the Atlantic Ocean, off of Quogue on Long Island. I heard the Coast Guard report as the rescue began. If I was a ambulance chaser, that is, an attorney first at the scene of accidents to acquire new clients, the scanner would be very invaluable.
- Automatic gain control (AGC), otherwise known as automatic volume control (AVC), is a feature in more expensive radio equipment. This stabilizes volume so it remains steady regardless of the signal strength of the transmitting radio station. With this, there isn’t a need to constantly adjust the volume control for varying transmitter wattage, and transmitter distance from your radio.
- Listening to the service band scanner, you may notice that the police sound stressed, while the airline pilots talking to the control towers sound calm. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
- My discontinued, Radio Shack PRO-97 Scanner, is not as intuitively operated as my more recent, Tecsun PL-880 Shortwave Radio, but I have noticed that if you make it a kind of goal to figure out how to work and understand at least parts of it, you’ll reap dividends. In other words, with practice, you’ll have no need to put it out with the trash.
- While the Tecsun PL-880 has an impressive range of features, it will not receive police and fire, airplane, or weather broadcasters. For this, you’ll need a scanner, either handheld or base station. Be forewarned, the emergency bands can be very interesting, but they can also get depressing. Listening to the police band is a heart attack, you wonder how cops can deal with endless amounts of, what to me is, uncomfortable levels of stress. Firefighters also deal with lots of stress, but their work seems to revolve less around resolving conflict that may not be resolvable. Maybe it is habituated, or maybe the standard, twenty-year stint is all they can stomach. Anyhow, if you get tired of listening to first responders, listen to the weather band instead.
- I just upgraded my ancient, mobile scanner, Radio Shack Pro-97, 20-527 with a Diamond RH77CA HT/Scanner Antenna (for BNC, not SMA connecting jack). It was an affordable $26 upgrade. It did make a difference. Listening for just five minutes there was: a dog bite; an overdose, I’m guessing opioids; and a drowning — in five minutes. The weather-only broadcast had better reception at least. If you feel you’re cut out for police work, you may want to listen to police bands on a scanner first. Assuming you have a very strong stomach, the pay, on Long Island at least, is excellent. You can make a difference, assuming you: are not a racist; are competent; strive for excellence; and care about people. On Long Island, the reputation has been protect and serve, not oppress and kill. Elsewhere, many seem completely incompetent.
- I am not familiar with the scanners being offered today. I have a Radio Shack model from over ten years ago, but they have shrunk down several of their product lines in response to cyclical economic conditions. Uniden does sell scanners, and I am very satisfied with their surveillance cameras. I have yet to make a dime putting in good words for products I like, and as the World’s lone, non-believer in currency, I have no intention to do so.
- To maximize any radio’s reception potential of AM and FM, tilt the telescoping antenna at an angle, especially in the direction of most of the radio stations you want to receive (to receive the shortwave band, point the antenna straight up and down). I could not pick up a station with an otherwise strong signal, until I tried this. You will need to experiment, but a vertical antenna is likely not optimal.
- I just bought a Tecsun AN-200, Tunable Medium Wave Loop Antenna. This allowed me to get AM reception where I couldn’t before, in a part of the house that has inside walls on three sides. Inside walls block radio waves to a greater degree because the signal has to get through outside walls as well. I picked up AM stations in this room only after the antenna was tuned with its knob. Connecting the antenna and radio via a cable and two 1/8" jacks wouldn’t produce a signal. What did though was a suggested wireless setup, just by placing the antenna near the radio, I got modest reception — I picked up several stations I couldn’t get earlier. I have no idea why that would be effective, but here it works. Maybe it is collecting, or focusing, a electromagnetic wave, radio energy pool.
- Tecsun is a Chinese company. For those knowledgeable about Chinese hardware, and circuit board designing, this is a plus. For those knowing of human rights abuses there, it would be a minus. To me, I’m supporting poor people, because by our standards, everyone there lives in overpopulated poverty. So depending on how political you want to make your consumer decision, will decide how much “Made in China” influences your purchase.
- Different rooms in your house will have different levels of radio reception. In my bedroom, I cannot receive AM stations, but in the kitchen, less enclosed on all sides by other rooms, I can. Experiment with where you place the receiver — you can even experiment with the radio while the power is on.
- The longer the whip antenna is, the better is the reception. This is the general rule. (What does a whip antenna look like, like a whip?)
- In terms of reception, it can really pay off to experiment with antenna position, and by adjusting all the settings (especially after you read up on what they do). The only damage one can do is with water and lightning strikes. Or deleting a carefully compiled list of presets en masse, which is difficult to do anyway, and at least initially, you’ll probably be resetting presets with every session.
- This hack makes a huge difference in shortwave reception. Instead of having the antenna in a room, set it up in the attic, or what would be much, much simpler, bring your rig outside. The PL-880 has an extra, simple wire antenna which can be draped via clip from the radio to a railing, or any similar stationary fixture. This antenna line can also be fed out of a window but that won’t work for many people. So enjoy the good weather, and the great reception.
- The World Radio TV Handbook has infinite broadcaster detail including: broadcast frequency, transmitter strength, and location of broadcasters’ offices, as well as supplementary articles. Amazon.com has it for sale, and it should be available for reserve from the library, or they will order a copy for you (unless you are in the South where they do not support education, but they do support gun play — and all males are named either Jeb, Jeremiah, or Bubba).
- The time listening greatly effects reception. Stations in the 6MHz band, at least at night, get the best reception. Above 13MHZ to 27MHz is best received during daytime, beneath 13MHz to 2MHz is for nighttime listening. Nighttime in general is a better bet, you’ll pick up more stations then. Near sunrise and sunset get especially good reception.
- Try to be sure that the antenna is reasonably taut, untouched and is as straight as possible without line kinks. Minor tweaks of your antenna setup, can make significant improvements in reception.
- Okay, static is the issue with shortwave reception (FM is crystal clear for most Long Island broadcasters). Winter is the best listening, summer might be the weakest for you. One day you might pick up a station from Maine, or much further, very clearly. Other days, static limits listening.
- For shortwave reception, toggle treble off and bass bias on. This dampens a good deal of the static.
- I wasn’t getting the bands below 6Mhz before I moved the antenna wire off of a speaker. The outside antenna is the easiest reception fix, it can have the potential to clear up the static of the entire shortwave band.
- This radio can pick up shortwave, long wave, AM (amplitude modulation), FM (frequency modulation), and single side band (upper and lower, the sine wave of radio transmission is split in two, down the middle).
AM 540 to 1600KHz
SW 2300 to 26100KHz, or stated equivalently, 2.3 to 26.1MHz
FM 88 to 108MHz
(MHz is megahertz, mega cycles, or a million cycles per second; KHz is kilo hertz, kilo cycles, or a thousand cycles per second. Cycles represent one wave of audio information in analog, non-digital form.)
- 6020KHz is Radio China, where you can brush up on your Chinese language skills for your next business trip to Beijing. 6000KHz is Radio Havana, which America has been attempted to starve out for decades, but President Obama opened relations, and which Trump wants to close down again. 7490KHz is WBCQ from Monticello, Maine. They have a wide variety of programming. Shortwave broadcasters are not typically transmitting 24/7, so I run the scan function every time I begin a session (the manual explains necessary details clearly).
- All the shortwave Christian programming will on face value make you cringe, but it’s also a fascinating look at how preachers manipulate their flock with fear, guilt, hate, and the paltriest of hopes, to get donations from the desperate.
- Shortwave is not regulated as tightly as the mass media. There are cults and all manner of strangeness. I would make sure to not give them a dime, or get hooked on belief systems that are alien. The risk is really negligible, but it exists.
- Until you find stations you like, and you’ve tweaked your antenna position, there can definitely be static.
- If this all sounds harrowing, there is Software-Defined Radio (SDR) receivers connected to the Internet. Here is a list, and a second list of airwave broadcast radio, rebroadcast across the cabled Internet.
- Battery life, on the USB-recharged Tecsun, is surprisingly long, much longer than what I get on my iPod.
- Battery-powered radios such as the PL-880 can be kept on during lightning storms without fear of overloading circuits from a strike. That said, if you have a permanent outdoor antenna, you need to install a small, inexpensive device known as a lightning arrestor at one end.
- The payoff here is: Receiving broadcasts from those who will never get airtime over standard mass media. Receiving out-of-State stations, even European and Asian ones also makes this hobby worthwhile. Detective work might be required to determine the station’s nation of origin, which might be detected with foreign language skills (and the patter in another language also serves as a kind of Muzak).
- You want to know if Gwynnie Paltrow really scans the shortwave band? Well, she has a fifty-kilowatt broadcast tower atop Paltrow Mountain. She gets every band for that vantage point.
Grateful for the Dead
Jerry Garcia explaining the success of his band, the Grateful Dead: “We’re like licorice. Not everyone likes licorice, but the people who like licorice, really like licorice.”
Do NOT miss the greatest Grateful Dead concert ever, the one on January the Eighth of 1979, from Madison Square Garden, in Manhattan. Listen here ’til the cows get home, and this is so good, the cows ain’t going nowhere! An aside, the rumor mill has it that lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia, kept his New Year’s resolution that year, and stayed off the hard stuff for months.
This includes the one tandem drum solo where you won’t be heading to the bathroom while it’s playing. Although if this is your favorite part of the show, you are either a drummer, or blotto. I’ll admit that the last two or three tracks (except the finale, U.S. Blues) are not as good of a listen as the three hours prior.
The Grateful Dead assumes that their listeners are a breed apart, so they will employ longer, melodic phrasing as well as intricate harmonies between the seven musicians: Jerry Garcia, the front man (said to be his band); Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist; Phil Lesh, bassist; Keith Godchaux, keyboardist; Donna Godchaux, backing vocalist; Bill Kreutzmann, percussionist; and Mickey Hart, percussionist (count ’em, two drummers!)
This tape from the Berkeley Community Theater on August the 21st in 1972 is crystal clear, and the band is still very sharp. The only part missing is staples from Wake of the Flood, Blues for Allah, From the Mars Hotel, and Terrapin Station. Fifteen years later, and the cohesiveness and sound of the band suffers from Jerry’s succumbing to Persian heroin addiction. The early shows were when the Dead earned their reputation for clear seven-part harmonies, the later ones they could coast on their reputation if they felt like it. (If you have Winamp installed, stream the play list with the “VBR” link on the right. Then save, download, and in Winamp, click View > Visualizations.)
You’ll like this one. It’s from Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey on August the Sixth in 1974. Phil Lesh can be heard clearly on bass, oftentimes the bass doesn’t make it past the mixing board. Pigpen’s tenure was unceremoniously over and done prior, except for Keith Godchaux’ exit in a car accident, this is the final roster of the Dead. Jerry is in fine form, and Bob provides his patented theater of the absurd intro (“the weather report said no rain today, and that was’t the only thing in the news. [Set begins]...”) This is a pop-free quality recording, and it’s for, well, whuddya know? It’s free.
This week, we have yet another selection from the Dead Ensemble. Widely known among aficionados as the “Closing of the Winterland” show, the intro includes drug references, so if you are allergic, please avoid partaking. The wish of rhythm guitarist, Robert Weir, for a “Merry Christmas for all,” needs to be understood in context of a well-established, Pagan celebration which only the Grateful Dead celebrated on New Year’s Eve. For those interested, the Winterland Arena has been paved into a parking lot, or some such...
Here is a concert for which to be grateful, the Boston Garden show of May the Seventh in 1977. The sound quality is uncompromised, and the number of listens is over 600,000 — word got out about this one. (If you’re running the visualizations in Winamp — by clicking the Stream play list ( VBR ) link — then please excuse the heathen iconography, the crucifixes. A graphic artist got mixed up with the wrong crowd, with Jesus the Christ. It’s sad, I know.)
The next day’s show at Cornell, also part of the Holy Trinity of Dead perfection, is reputed to be the best Grateful Dead concert ever. I heard the Cornell show, and I was left wondering why the Boston Garden show wasn’t considered the better one of the two.
Was I in the wrong frame of mind for the Cornell show? Let me put it this way: Would the Dead go out of their way to give their all for the Boston Garden crowd, or would they play their absolute best for Ivy Leaguers, future captains of industry, and future Senators? Think about that — for a second.
February the Fourteenth of 1970 Fillmore East show, had these food groups in play: The Fillmore Venue, before drugs took their toll on Jerry et al, and much longer sets than late Eighties. Deadheads had a terrible reputation, but to appreciate the longer phrasing and intricate harmonies required avid listeners to be more intelligent by far than those just bopping around on American Bandstand to Top Forty.
That said, did the Grateful Dead get less adventurous, less hungry for greatness, as well as more conservative, and more commercial with later, cult success? Did their endless touring, more than any other band back then, burn them out. Even by today’s standards the Dead logged the most miles, except for Taylor Swift, who tours all year, every year. By the way, Ms. Swift’s lives on the band’s tour bus, this is her moving home address.
Remember, Deadheads, that most will never be treated to Jerry Garcia’s guitar licks, or their seven-part harmonies (tap out to hear how this is framed), but here is an archived gem from New Year’s Eve, Cow Palace concert from 1976 (near San Fran). The Seventies was their strongest as a band, Jerry wasn’t weakening from drugs just yet...
This is from 1973, a prolific year for the Dead. It’s their New Year’s Eve show, from San Francisco’s Winterland, where they held court and home field advantage.
From Nashville, Tennessee, and the cradle of bluegrass, which was a major musical influence of Jerry Garcia, here is the December the Sixteenth of 1978 concert. Here are two more of his with a strong Bluegrass imprint: Friend of the Devil, and Old and in the Way.
If you’re sick and tired by now of being force-fed Zeppelin — and who isn’t? — catch the KPFA, Dead to the World couple of hours, Wednesdays, 11PM to 1AM EDT. The Grateful Dead Lives, and not just in Dead Reckoning, the Dead play list that took over forty years to assemble.
The Grateful Dead sound was a product of three guitarists, two drummers (unknown to any other band), the female backup vocalist, and the keyboardist. Phil Lesh played the bass in the “Phil Zone” onstage; Jerry Garcia was lead guitar, the Dead was said to be his band; and Bob Weir was on rhythm guitar singing the tracks Jerry wasn’t. Donna Godchaux does the great work on Scarlet Begonias; Keith Godchaux was keyboards until he died in a car accident in 1980; and Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzman worked the drum kits. What also set the Dead apart was they had an in-house lyricist, Robert Hunter, and to a lesser extent, John Perry Barlow.
This many band members made for a very rich, complex sound, where multiple harmonies could be explored, ones worth multiple listens to pick up what wasn’t on first blush. The Dead, along with Jerry’s solo project, the Jerry Garcia Band, played almost any type of music: blues, bluegrass, soul (yes, soul), rock, acid rock, they covered it all.
The Dead had an unusually deep catalog, which made sense because Deadheads were following them around the country. Without a continually updated set list, Deadheads would have been extremely disappointed, unruly disappointed (Dead ’80, at the Nassau Coliseum, an eager — maybe over-eager? — fan lifted a police barricade and put it through a Coliseum’s 15-foot-tall, sheet glass window. One way to get in to see the Dead, but not a way that won’t get you locked up.)
In Phil’s book, Searching for the Sound, My Life with the Grateful Dead, he said the huge, Dead entourage proved too much for Jerry to keep going, and he eventually buckled under the strain, and killed himself with consumption, especially via Persian heroin and being overweight.
Most rock and roll guitars can sound abrasive. Jerry Garcia’s custom-built guitars, variously named “Rosebud,” “Tiger,” and “Wolf” had a more balanced tone, one not so grating on the ear. This may be a wild guess, but I’d say near the end, when they had to practically cart Jerry on-stage because of his heroin addiction, he’d want a sound full of reverb (echo), which didn’t challenge him so much musically.
Late in her career, Joni Mitchell did something similar with reverb, but simply because she was getting older, and complicated musical passages must have become too much for her to remember. She never did heavy drugs. From what I’ve read, drugs were never her thing. Joni was a wicked chain smoker of tobacco though, and this is said to have shortened her illustrious career.
(Am I professionally qualified to make these judgments about music? No, I’m not, but I’ve listened to and judged plenty of music over the years, and this makes perfect sense to me.)
The Book Report for the Fourteenth of February Grateful Dead Concert in 1970 at the Fillmore East follows (the show itself was first heard on Wednesday’s KPFA Dead to the World, on 2-14-18 at 11PM EST). This set passes the clean listening test (as improvisational jams, and their music didn’t always). If you think it’s noise, you’re not picking up the harmonies between the vocals and instruments (tapping the beat clarifies matters). China Cat Sunflower, I Know you, Rider, and Uncle John’s Band remained staples much later in their careers.
Then without further intro, here’s the notes, the happy recap of a show Other Letter first heard on Pacifica, KPFA, Radio of the Revolution. We’re camping in northern New England by New Hampshire’s White Mountains on the Appalachian Trail, and this is what’s streaming out of the cassette. Early Dead wasn’t slick but some might say crisper, sharper. Just seems more clearly articulated. Acoustic Dead is very unusual later in their careers. Pigpen led several songs in this set. This is 1970, in three years he was gone — drank himself to death.
Bob Weir heard here, but surprisingly Jerry wasn’t front and center in this set. Garcia arrives, he’s backup vocals for parts. In his autobiography, Searching for the Sound, Phil Lesh, their bassist, said it was Jerry’s band. He was always the front man. At least musically he was, because they had a dedicated lyricist in Robert Hunter. Early Jerry doesn’t sound like later Jerry. Seems more in command at this point, as though he is able to do more with his voice.
Bob Weir can seem more labored than Garcia. Jerry seems aiming more for carefree than heavy and controlled as he might later. This sounds strangely folksy. Did the pull of commercialism and exclusivity give them a much harder edge? Still, they sound a bit like Hot Tuna here. Nicely harmonized if a bit loud, especially if you are older. Do they jam for too long? Do they get to the grating end of the jam spectrum? They still have ideas or approaches. Seems late in their career they didn’t care as much how they sounded. They were the behemoth Grateful Dead. You are privileged to be in the same auditorium. Or at minimum, did they lose some of the intimacy they had with their fans?
Hopefully a few of us will remember this as the day you heard some great vintage music on KPFA instead of the day of the Valentine’s Day Massacre, one which Washington still refuses to do anything to stop from happening over and over and over again. Repeal the Second Amendment. Include a gun buyback. It’s the only hope America has left. It’s the one and only guaranteed solution. Americans must have a sweet spot for kids in body bags.
If you’re an Other Deadhead, this concert may fit the bill. It’s post-Pigpen (don’t ask why), 1973 (for my money, I’d say bank on ’73 or ’77), and San Francisco’s Winterland (where they always had home field advantage, and fans fully-versed in their work). That should cover the major food groups. The Dead are very sharp here, no painfully long, harmony-lacking, time-filling solos. If you would like a drug-like experience without any loss of sanity or brain cells, watch the Winamp visualizations (save and open download). Winamp instructions here, or go traditional. 10/28/17.
The Grateful Dead played a concert on the Seventh of October, in 1980, at the more intimate Warfield Theater in San Francisco. Not many, if any, GD sets on Archive.org get a 20,000-plus listener count like this one does. The set list at this concert is entirely different than most of their other shows from then, or anytime else. At minimum, this is yet another new direction of the Dead. This sounds like their private reserve for the hometown fans. This concert was before Jerry Garcia, their front man, had his chops severely compromised by a lifetime of heavy drug use. 4/29/17.
It’s Still on your Radio Dial
Nashville, Tennessee’s WSM-AM 650 is the home of the Grand Ole Opry, and its vaunted onstage, Hall-of-Fame, floor-embedded Circle. Saturday night at the Opry is when Southerners pull out all the stops, and they are allowed to hear music per deacon ruling.
If you work in the legal department of any of these radio stations, and you take exception to a streaming link here, then send me a cease and desist letter, and I will remove your link promptly. Just for kicks, explain why you don’t want outside promotion of your station, why you want less traffic, and why you want fewer listeners of your ads...
You’re taking a Sunday stroll. Everyone is wearing shades of paisley, and black-lens sunglasses. Wafting out of a record store, you smell a kind of incense you had never smelled before. Dizzy, you need to sit down inside. The calendar on the wall reads “London Town Records — Chelsea | June 1969.” This is the pirate radio that you hear from Radio Caroline. 5/17/20.
Radio Caroline (see above) was an off-shore, pirate radio station from the Sixties. It was named after JFK and Jackie Onassis offspring, Caroline Kennedy. The Brits must have been very impressed with the Kennedys, because there is also Radio Jackie (follow “Listen Now” links), ostensibly counterpoint to Radio Caroline, and also a pirate radio station from the Sixties.
This is Oldies, Suffolk, Long Island-style, from 98.1. All of you West Coast readers can enjoy its refreshing playlist, even those over in China can partake.
Yes, I have an average of five Chinese readers every day (honest) — “Mow chow mocktow.” I just said: “Welcome to the Western World experience, send me email.” Don’t worry in the Orient, Google pulled the plug on their Dragonfly Project, the search engine behemoth won’t be censoring you, for the foreseeable future at least. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have apparently lost interest in a financial opportunity.
I lack the motivation, and you probably lack the interest, of me showing you how to add this to Shoutcast, but here’s the URL:
If you do want to add radio stations to Shoutcast, you might try poking around the player code with ctrl+u, looking for “https://blah-blah-something-audio”. Or go to Radio.com, find radio stations you like, then use a search engine to retrieve their call letters. Add to Shoutcast this URL, replacing the ???? below, with the call letters:
Oh, well, I tried.
WHLI, 1100 AM on Long Island, plays circa Seventies classics that put today’s noisy rappers, and overpromoted acts, to shame. This is carefully curated, they had forty plus years to get it right. These are the “hits of a lifetime,” but is this an undeservedly dying, radio format? They feature all the classic good-times songs from then.
(Tunein also has a mobile version available in Apple’s App Store, and perhaps an Android version if anyone still bothers patronizing Google.)
At sunset, WHLI shuts off its over-the-airwaves, broadcasting transmitter, and Newsradio WTAM 1100 — Cleveland’s Newsradio, is heard at 1100 khz instead (on Long Island and environs, that is). Yet, WHLI 1100AM music is still available online, 24/7.
Antenne Bayern is a German language station on Shoutcast sent direct from Germany. Yet all the music is in English. Did Germany have very few successful pop acts? Were there next to none? Nena singing 99 Luftballons was their biggest act? Is the lack of music coming out of Germany due to their being routed in World War II, and not having anything to sing about? (Okay, this isn’t exactly being broadcast over the airwaves, it’s bitcast over the Internet.)
I’ve given this extensive thought, and the reason why there are so few German songs, is because most songs are love songs. Given the guttural nature of the Germanic tongue, and a historic predisposition towards schadenfreude, singing about love in German is next to impossible. This is not a cheap shot against the German people, who have bounced back so admirably after “exterminating” six million Jews. No, this is — oh, never mind...
If you live on Long Island, there’s a great station with singularly programmed music you have never heard. It is the very first slot on your FM dial, WXBA, 88.1. They play the best classic Sixties, and Seventies music, and anything else worth playing . Their music selection policy seems to be, if it used to have a huge audience, it still does.
Most surprisingly, it is produced by Brentwood High School, except the play list is anything but amateur (Brentwood High School is one of the largest, if not the largest in New York State). My take is that it is an upgraded carryover, including the vinyl album collection, from the now defunct, vintage 103.1, WBZO, of nearby Bay Shore. As of 1/03/18, there is not an Internet simulcast for WXBA to generate worldwide broadcasts. I would imagine that’s because of prohibitively-expensive, royalty structures, or just as costly streaming, computer servers.
Get the Radio UK app at Apple’s App Store, or Google Android’s Code Depot. This offers streaming radio from around the British Isles featuring, but not limited to: Heart 80s, Absolute Radio 70s, Virgin Radio, and Radio Jackie. If they ask for your zip code (and I doubt that they will), your zip code is WC2H 7LA (or anything similar). Using a British postal code clears national copyright hurdles. In other words, they don’t want Americans to know what they’re missing... (Britain is five hours later than the East Coast of the U.S., and overnights may or may not have weak programming because most are asleep there...)
Radio Jackie may be the best of the lot, but when we listen in the evening in the Northeastern United States, it is smack dab in the middle of the graveyard shift in Great Britain. I do not envy the deejay trying to get himself through that time slot while never getting seriously cranky, or even unpleasant at all.
I finally splurged and bought the Radio UK app for $2.99. I have to say, it’s been worth every last penny. I cannot remember $2.99 better spent. Pop-ups are no more, endless taps to get back to the navigable screen are a thing of the past. I could hardly be more pleased now that my listening experience has been completely transformed, where once I struggled daily with a balky iPod, I have now found serenity not only here in...
If you’ve gotten sick and tired of hearing Sinatra croon Jesus, You are One Hep-Cat, Happy Birthday!, the Other Letter has the antidote: WSHU, 91.3 in Western Suffolk, Long Island. They even have broadcast repeaters to the Tri-State area, and parts of New England, as well as streaming on the Internet to anywhere on Earth They play classic Classical music from 9AM to 4PM, and 8PM to 5AM. Clear your head without any, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Singers Sing: Manger Mayhem. 12/20/17.
Here is great news, unless you work at I Heart Radio (in which case it’s even better news), I Heart Radio is going into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. No more Led Zeppelin round the clock programmed by people who do not understand music. But as Neil Young said, “My, my, hey, hey, rock and roll is here to stay” — except on their network. Because on I Heart Radio’s ultra conservative, headlong into commercialism format, you would never hear Neil Young B-sides while listening to I Hurt Radio’s, New York, classic rock flagship, Q1043.
Youtube is not the only source for music, online or otherwise. There is still plenty of broadcast radio programming available if you know where to look — and that would be here (and here on Other Letter’s Radio Page).
The American radio spectrum (at least for White people) goes from a very Pop Forty (often New Wave and 80s) orientation to a rock format. The rock stations tend to go for music esoterica, and they can suggest they are cooler than you will ever be, to the point of sounding unnatural. The Pop format can get corny, but they ultimately strive to be down to earth. The Pop format may have more of a problem with repetitive song selections although they tend to aim for a more relaxing, not so stimulating sound.
Maybe they need to sound bigger than life, but the rock end of the spectrum can sound aloof, while some of the copy of both formats can border on the ridiculous. Both have a long list of artist factoids, although rock formats tend to emphasize this more.
It’s grating listening to a rock station, like I Heart Radio’s Q1043 in New York, when it favors noisy Led Zeppelin, at the expense of playing, say, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Yes, the Allman Brothers, or Genesis. Could there be any other reason for this continual, promotional favoritism of this one unremarkable band besides payola? If they are paid promotional consideration to continually showcase inferior music like Led Zeppelin, how is this not payola? If you are not receiving promotional consideration, why would you ever bother promoting that band? (Click links above for clearly better alternatives.)
I am not very familiar with the African American formats, but I believe they run somewhere between classic soul like Marvin Gaye to urban hip-hop like Kanye West. This rap format, to me at least, hardly qualifies as music, especially compared to the greats of the Seventies like Earth, Wind, and Fire, Michael Jackson, or Diana Ross.
You may think your streaming audio options are limited until you check out Radio-Locator.com and see that they’re unlimited. I’ll probably be hung by my thumbs for this, but visit a UK site. (Just so you know, Americans such as us listen to crap on the radio, courtesy I Hurt Radio. The British have it all going on, I can tell you). When the station web site realizes your Internet Protocol address isn’t British, copy and paste WC2H 7LA for the required British postal code. Just a little hack, one that probably won’t generate a visit from MI-6, the NSA, and FBI SWAT teams.
If any of those agents do rappel down the side of your house, just say you have family in London, and you used their postal code. If they lock out that postal code, find a British company’s address and use that one. Remember, I never met you, I have no idea who you are, I will testify against you at a UN Tribunal. Lengthy prison sentences await you, although a cease and desist order may await me (a first for non-British, streaming radio theft, along with a slow day at the DA’s office). 12/30/17...
Or if you just want to sample what makes British music so superior, check this out (and click “Listen Now”), or via this link (click “listen,” “save,” then open download — not a virus, not at all)... 1/01/18.
You can bypass cheat codes (even silly, little ones like postal codes) with the Radio UK app. I would suggest when the app install requests your location, you don't give it, because you may run into nation blocking issues. Still, they know the country where they’re sending their traffic. Like any site, they need your nation-specific, Internet Protocol address to connect and route data... Heart 80’s has the hot hand on this app right now (an hour later, Smooth London), but you can cycle through the scores of British stations... Britain is five hours later than the East Coast, which means the overnight programming might be weaker, just like in the States. 1/02/18.
If you would like to get around the Youtube monopoly (including Youtube Red) it is surprisingly easy (this link includes many of the major details). Register as a webcaster with the United States Copyright Office, and also with a non-profit trade group, SoundExchange. You will pay 0.14¢ per song, ten plays are 1.4¢. With advertising on your web site, this is a simple business model to sustain. On the other hand, Shoutcast will set you up as a radio broadcaster, while simplifying the process over doing it all yourself. 8/28/17.
To its eventual downfall, Country music overplays patriotism to no end. The Left and Right Coasts cannot relate to a steady diet of god and country. The God part of the Country equation is always Christian, and not just Christian, but mostly for the churchgoing and devout variety.
The alternative to Jesus and banjoes in today’s Country music, is the other end of the morality continuum, the odes to barflies, or to heavy drinking. Country still has very adult themes, but unless it addresses these weaknesses, who sees it around for very much longer, or as something besides a Southern-only act?
Say what you will about the Beegees, but they had great harmonies with their rhythm section. The Bee Gees moved to the Land of Oz early on in their careers, and this is why the band is so tight with Nicole Kidman, a fellow Aussie. Not surprisingly, Australians all know one another.
Nikky only knows one Bee Gee now, Barry Bee Gee, because the other two brothers in the band died (in separate incidents). Whenever I run into Nicole, I ask her how Barry Bee Gee is doing. I mean the disco people just lost Donna Summer...
Here are a few of the world’s greatest music albums:
I was practicing the playing of American Pie — one of my all-time favorites — and the D major chord sounded strange (or so I thought it was a D major chord). Because I was playing a major chord, would it just be played as all naturals (white keys), and no sharps (black keys)? Then I realized I was playing the D major chord, as a D minor chord (in music notation, a Dm chord). The Dm is correctly played with all white keys.
A major chord has the root note played by your pinky, then four keys up with the middle finder, then the thumb is three keys up from there. D F# A is how to correctly play a D major chord, not D F A, which is how to play a Dm, or a D minor chord.
Pinky and middle finger pressed in combination defines the tonal character of the chord. Is this so? Well, intervals of three keys, then four keys, are minor chords, and these sound sad, and a bit bittersweet. A four key interval on the pinky and middle finger, followed by a three key interval up to the thumb, plays major chords. These are happy and upbeat. The thumb key fills out the sound.
There you have it: Major chords are a four key interval up the keyboard, then a three key interval. Minor chords are the reverse: Three key interval, followed by a four key interval.
A 7th chord (notated as a D7 or Dm7 in this example) requires 4 fingers, not just three fingers, but this is a lesson for another day...
Amaze your friends:
C-D#-F (quarter note rest) C-D#-F#-F (quarter note rest) C-D#-F-D#-C
These are two staffs of musical notes, with its treble clef, and its higher pitched notes above, and a bass clef, with its lower pitched notes below. The notes are C to B in both the treble and bass staffs. The treble clef “G” circles the line for the note of G, while The bass clef “backwards F” circles the line for the note of F.
Sight reading sheet music for playing the piano, is not much different than touch-typing a typewriter keyboard. Of course, this is a far, far cry from playing the piano by ear without even the benefit of sheet music, but if you can learn to play from sheet music, you have significantly expanded your musical horizons.
Because your left hand plays the chords — three or four notes played simultaneously — it’s much easier to pick out the notes for the right hand than for the left. From Middle C, just count up the keyboard as you count up the staff on the sheet music. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to quickly know which piano key matches which note that appears on the sheet music.
Counting up or down from C helps determine which key to play. The next key is an interval distant up or down from the last key played, so use the prior key to find the next key to play.
The left hand, the chords, gets trickier. Major chords are 4 keys up from the “pinky,” or root key, then 3 keys up. C Major is played with these keys: C-E-G. Minor chords are the opposite, 3 keys up, then 4. The A Minor chord is played with these keys: A-C-E. Major 7ths are 4 keys traversed up the keyboard from the root, then 3, then 3; and Minor 7ths are 3 keys up, then 4, then 3. In sheet music notation, Dm7, or D Minor 7th, is played with these notes: D-F-A-C.
The chords are named after the root key, the “pinky key,” the most bass key in the chord. Chords are played in progressions: the C, F, and G Major chords sound good together, and pop music relies on them, almost exclusively. There are other progressions, but that gets rather advanced.
Because this is obviously just a small sampler, you’ll need a musical theory course at a college or university, or a competent music teacher, to help fill in the gaps of your understanding. This was one of the most beneficial courses I took as an undergraduate, because it was a firm foundation for musical appreciation.
My piano tuner explained a good way to learn a musical instrument. Set aside twenty minutes every week — a particular day of the week, such as Saturday, and time of day — and play twenty minutes, or if you feel like playing an hour, or more, do that.
You will quickly learn quite a variety of excuses to avoid practicing: You’re too tired so Chopin’s Études would be a bit of a stretch right now; you’re not good enough, and when the neighbors overhear, they are secretly laughing at you behind your back (assuming they weren’t already); or you’ve gotten so good at your musical instrument, that every riff you play disturbs the neighborhood romantic balance.
Once you get the hang of chord notation, Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind is a blast to play on the piano. Chord notation might be learned with the following section, by getting a piano teacher, or by taking a course in Music Theory at a local college — not Trump University.
Stevie Nicks was prettier, Christine McVie was the significantly better singer. Of the two, Nicks was the more popular one in Fleetwood Mac, by far.
At one time, bands made their money off of their vinyl albums, and they went on tours to publicize their albums. After free streaming, this has been reversed: The musical acts are mostly making their money off of their tours, and their albums publicize the touring.
Listening to the RadioUK app of local British broadcasting, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel get less airtime across the pond. Are those two mostly speaking to the American experience or at least speaking more to it?
The Beatles dynamic: Paul McCartney was the ambitious one, and he was a stoner (who gave it up in his fifties when it started to compromise his mental faculties). If you were living outside the Western Hemisphere for the last fifty years, you don’t know that the singer-songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney (and then as solo artists) wrote what is arguably the best music in the history of pop music, or any music. If you ever tried learning the piano, you own several of their primers, ones likely including: Michelle, Ma Belle, Hey Jude, The Long and Winding Road, etcetera, etcetera, and etcetera.
How does one know the notes included within the Key of F major? With a whole step interval being two piano keys distant, and a half being one, start at F, and proceed: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half -- just like the white key (natural key) spacing on a piano beginning at C. Here, F is the root, the basis, or the starting point, and the key of F includes one flat, B flat.
The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Shame
Because I am an American (as of today), the First Amendment affords me freedom of speech. Opinion and parody are protected expression. If you know different, it’s because you live in Russia.
There is only one song written by one of the top three singer-songwriters of all time that really rubs me the wrong way. (David Crosby, of 70’s super group, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, said the other top two are Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell — and I’ll throw in Billy Joel for good measure.)
Paul McCartney penned the lyrics to Live and Let Die. You’re thinking: “that song has a good hook, what’s wrong with it?”
This isn’t a song about the heightened awareness of the prior decade, the Summer of Love, or kindness in general. Instead, it’s about taking down your enemy. It’s about: “You gotta give the other fellow hell.” It’s an icy sentiment. Did Mr. McCartney intend it for a sizeable young adult audience? It’s also about the end of innocence, and having it replaced by: “Say live and let die.”
Is this the same songwriter who gave us Here Comes the Sun, Uncle Albert, Admiral Halsey, Listen to What the Man Said, and even Michelle? Was he just copping an attitude in Let Die to stand out from the pack of rock and roll musicians?
This was why there are millions of Beatles fans who liked John more than Paul, because Paul tended to lack the profound lyrics that were John’s trademark. Just as a for instance, Paul doesn’t have anything in his song catalog near as meaningful of a work as Imagine. He was too busy writing Live and Let Dies. Paul has been well-noted for his chart-topping, catchy melodies instead.
I ♥ Radio’s Led Zeppelin
Everyone who can appreciate good music, and even those who can’t, owes it to themselves to listen to the world’s worst band, Led Zeppelin. Q1043 in New York, and nationwide on the I Heart Radio Network (and maybe internationally), has their Led Zeppelin Hour, all courtesy of a variety of tone deaf deejays. Every Monday, they spread their toxic, sonic manure near and far.
Besides a Cosa Nostra connection, is there any other explanation for I Heart Radio’s kneeling before Robert Plant and Jimmy Page? Zeppelin were never rock and roll Gods, only over promoted nobodies. The real rock gods were Peter Townsend of The Who and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. The Who is number one, Led Zeppelin will always be number two...
There are a long list of problems with Zeppelin: its extreme over-marketing; its obvious Payola, front and center scheduling arrangement with I Heart Radio; that they don’t qualify as musicians because they have no talent; as well as their influence on the impressionable — especially with Black Dog.
Zeppelin was a one-hit wonder, whose one hit, Stairway to Heaven was plagiarized off of a band they opened for called Taurus. The estate of a now deceased, Taurus band member had sued, but the judge, who was likely paid off by the label, said the jurors could not listen to the original recordings, they had to decide based on a guitarist playing the songs in the courtroom.
What you hear on the toilet bowl sounds better than what Zeppelin produces. But there’s more than all these Zeppelin songs that lack melodies, syncopation, or well, anything that would identify it with music. Robert Plant, the Freak King, fakes orgasms on stage, and his lyrics are sexually manipulative, and misogynistic to women. Plant was competing with Mick Jagger for Satan’s crown. Jagger had Sympathy for the Devil, but Plant had Black Dog.
Plant’s lyrics are rife with misogyny, and really, a tool kit to manipulate, then rape vulnerable girls. This is a criminal disgrace, one made available to millions upon millions of young males, yet in concert Plant just upped the ante with more sexual oppression.
Today, I Heart Radio keeps misogyny alive with its endless Led Zeppelin promotions (they even had a Valentine’s Day with Zeppelin feature, if your girl is a big league masochist). I switch any station when they play Zeppelin, because it’s only noise pollution. I really don’t know much of the lyrics in their catalog, but I found these creepy verses just in anal sex, rape-tape, party classic, Black Dog:
Uh uh child, way you shake that thing,
Gonna make you burn, gonna make you sting.
[Shake what? What’s going to burn and sting?]
Hey, hey, baby, when you walk that way,
Watch your honey drip, can’t keep away.
Darlin’ can’t you do me now?
Hey, baby, oh, baby, pretty baby,
Move me while you do me now.
I can really do you, huh? Ooh, wew, you do it, baby.
Push it, baby, push it, baby, push it, baby, push it, baby,
Push it, baby, push it, babe, babe.
Ooh, ooh, aah ooh. Ooh. I’d really like to do it now. I’d really like to do it now.
This is the typical Lead Zeppelin scene: Say you are a girl, just say, and you’re at the house of someone you’ve heard of (is there any other way to write this without role-playing?) Their stereo is blaring at uncomfortable levels, yet the male host bobs their head as this was the most cosmic music in Creation. You try to figure out why he is so into what sounds like a jackhammer. The guys are saying it’s Led Zeppelin, yet it sounds god-awful. You are increasingly uncomfortable.
Weed and beer is passed around, which you eagerly imbibe to stop the headache you feel, and the next thing you can remember, your panties are down by your ankles, and it is 3AM. Women out there, if you have experienced similar, you have experienced a Led Zeppelin rape, and should seriously consider filing a class action lawsuit against them, for disseminating their 8-track or cassette, rape kits. In their defense, Zeppelin would likely claim that a date-rape chant is just part of their act.
Just as a postscript, the reason John Bonham drank himself to death, besides that he was an alcoholic, was the fact that Zeppelin didn’t have any talent whatsoever, they had none. They were completely winging it on tour for years at a time. Plant’s lyrics show a clear, sadistic streak against women, Jimmy Page could never hold a candle to Jerry Garcia, while Bonham may have been the only one in Led Zeppelin with any real talent.
Then I Heart Radio pops on the scene, and tries to revitalize what is likely the worst band in rock, and certainly the most over-promoted. Zeppelin must represent an attractive price point, one royalty cost-effective (after Payola). And kids today get to regurgitate rape rock as played by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and now, I Heart Radio.
Here’s this much more: Do you know why Led Zeppelin didn’t play Woodstock, but the Who and the Grateful Dead did? Because Zeppelin never deserved to be up there at Yasgur’s Farm, but The Who and The Dead did. 9/02/19.
Led Zeppelin, they are noisy, get far too much airtime, and make for a musically-challenged foursome. Listening to the linked songs are painful, but it proves a point — and half aren’t even live, they are studio cuts. If you take the average Who song and play it beside the average Led Zeppelin song, the Who song is invariably the better song. If a FCC-sponsored broadcaster plays Zeppelin to no end, even going so far as assembling Zeppelin Valentine’s Day specials, and they push it endlessly as the world’s greatest rock ’n roll band, over bands like The Who and The Grateful Dead, money must be exchanged. Zeppelin is shown promotional bias over those two superior bands.
Led Zeppelin was never the state of the art in classic rock, to anyone with a discerning ear or listened to music prior to I Heart Radio, Zeppelin is just noise pollution. How did Led Zeppelin ever get so well known, when the melody of their signature song, Stairway to Heaven, is a clear rip off of Spirit’s Taurus.
“Uh uh child, way you shake that thing (child, shake your ass, or shake what?), Gonna make you burn, gonna make you sting! (What will be burning and stinging?)”
This is from classic rock, lead-weight, Led Zeppelin, and their Black Dog, an anal sex masterpiece for pedophiles — or was it a KY jelly ad — or a rape, how-to kit to be played in teenage boys’ car stereos?
Or maybe I’m completely off-base, but look at the line above, and the first one below, and the next, and the next. If I was the father of a teenage daughter, and she said her boyfriend played this in his car, I would make him her ex-boyfriend:
“Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove... pretty baby, Move me while you do me now... Watch your honey drip... Darlin’ can’t you do me now?... Started tellin’ her friends she gonna be a star... I can really do you, huh? Ooh, wew, you do it, baby. Push it, baby...”
Is this just Zeppelin’s version of retarded sexuality as seen in Spinal Tap, or is this misogyny much darker, and insidious? You can’t say they’re the greatest rock band, they are only the most promoted and pretentious one, courtesy of I Heart Radio. Anyone can say, with authority, that they are one of the world’s worst bands, likely the worst, ever in existence. This band is so bad, they only libel themselves, yet I Heart Radio pushes them all day, every day, as the day is long...
What makes no sense to me is how a monopoly like I Heart Radio, and their coldest flagship Q104.3, so rabidly loves Black Dog among other Zeppelin relics.
By the way, on Valentine’s Day of 2018, Q1043 celebrated with a, you guessed it, a salute to Led Zeppelin’s love song catalog — not The Who’s, not the Dead’s, or even Paul Simon’s. You cannot make this up. I’m thinking they’ll lead with Black Dog. Welcome to juvenile sexuality courtesy of Led Zeppelin and I Hurt Radio. Here is a classic hard rock alternative, and a classic soft rock one. America, you deserve better than I Heartless Radio.
Bono of U2
Bono can’t sing. You knew that already? Well, now, he can’t even talk. If you follow The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Shame you know that Bono is a bona fide here because he is a tax evader. He lost his voice half way through U2’s first set of a concert this week. The smart money is behind the obvious conjecture that his tax evasion chicanery finally caught up with him. Bono completely lost his confidence, his edge.
We hope for one of two things: either Bono retires in disgrace, or he pays back all the tax his fellow Irish had to pay in his stead because he’s a greedy SOB. Bono pretends he is a man of the people, but meanwhile lives in several mansions. Then to show how sick his soul is he rips off his impoverished fellow Irish men and women of his share of the tax burden, and does so without any compunction.” Bono is a filthy rich billionaire, and he’s doing everything in his power to become even wealthier, in spite of omnipresent Irish poverty.
Bono is a fraud, this is why his vocal box, the window to his soul, shut down. The justice he’s long deserved has been served, every second of humiliation was deserved as he walked off of the stage. Shania Twain’s ex hooked up with her best friend, and she could not sing anymore, just like Bono. Shania’s recovery of her singing voice took years.
Unless he pays the full share of his tax burden, we don’t wish him a speedy recovery, we only hope he remains mute, and never speaks another word. Bono makes his livelihood claiming that he is just like me and you, meanwhile he’s shamelessly gaming the system. This is pure poetic justice that a billionaire with little talent, shaking his tambourine and his ass, finally gets his just desserts...
I was just wondering: Is Bono’s namesake Sonny Bono, of Sonny and Cher fame? Both are expert at the tambourine. As a U.S. Congressman, Sonny Bono was devoted to Republican politics and wealth acquisition, just like Bono of U2 is. (I cannot say for certain U2’s Bono is a Republican, but if you’re gaming the tax system like he is, you can just do the math.)
His tax haven arrogance may rankle the common folk. Yet this Emerald Isle poser has decided that the pursuit of wealth, and working to perpetuate the fairy-tale myth of Jesus the Christ, while evading one’s fair share of tax bill, is what matters most.
He claims he is pro-choice, yet if someone cheats his own people of tax revenue, can he just as easily present himself as being behind whatever cause will give him more fans, and make him wealthier still? This guy looks like he has a public face supporting all kinds of progressive bullsh*t, and a private one making money, very shadily, and hand-over-fist.
The Grateful Dead wrote and performed a song called Alabama Getaway. It is a thinly-veiled indictment of Sweet Home, Alabama, and by association, Confederate-flag-waving, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sweet Home, Alabama is Skin-nerd’s most well-known song, and one which was the title of a movie in wide release starring Reese Witherspoon.
Lynyrd Skynyrd were not as great of a band as the Allman Brothers, that other well-established Southern Rock band. Skin-nerd was a more commercial Allman Brothers, just as Zeppelin was a more commercial Who. The Allman Brothers and The Who were better musicians, had more interesting melodies, hotter licks, and lyrics. Led Zeppelin and Leonard Skin-nerd are grating, jackhammer-noise compared to The Who and the Allman Brothers.
Skin-nerd’s embrace of the Confederacy was really bad, as is a related belief that slavery and the era of the Confederacy somehow represents the South at its best. Just two verses from Sweet Home Alabama really ruins enjoying Skin-nerd for anyone with a conscience. They take Neil Young to task for playing this song, Southern Man (Neil Young, a Canadian, is forced to become America’s conscience here):
Tall white mansionsTo which Skin-nerd decided to enter the fray with:
and little shacks.
when will you
pay them back?
I heard screamin’
and bullwhips cracking
Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow
In Birmingham they love the governor (boo, boo, boo)
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth
It would be like Billy Joel singing in the praises of the Nazis at Charlottesville.
How tragic was the plane crash that terminated an ever-more-popular figurehead who had a winking, veiled message of racism and hatred? Skin-nerd became a very popular voice legitimizing the Confederacy view, one steeped in race hatred. Did fate decide in the favor of justice? Was the Skin-nerd plane crash deserved for a very-popular, racist subtext? Or was the crash only the final flight of an aircraft that shouldn’t have flown in the first place? The Allman Brothers never waved the Confederate Flag and they had African Americans in their musical line up.
Can music be politicized too much? Aren’t Southerners entitled to pretend their past was glorious, that their history deserves to be seen with selective blinders, and they have every right to ignore slavery and segregation, and give carte blanche to those guys in flowing robes with the face-covering hoods? Then why can’t the good ol’ boys take down those pointing out the South is wrong, like Neil Young tried to do? People who think instead of just act would never side with Skin-nerd’s queer heroes, Nixon and Wallace...
Why should Southerners hide their love for the Confederacy and their love for slavery? Skin-nerd was redneck rock (and the forerunner of big hair metal, along with plenty of dressing room hair spray). The governor that Skin-nerd apologizes for was George Wallace, who was a racist to the core. Watergate would not bother you if you believe Presidents can be criminals permitted all to neutralize their perceived enemies. It was a very disturbing time in American history. Given Trump, and how he feels he’s above the law, we’re seeing history repeat itself (think a bully paying sex worker hush money, Trump Foundation and Trump University, hiding his taxes, et al).
By the way, Hollywood, in their infinite myopia, made a movie entitled, Sweet Home, Alabama. Just like the song, it must have been about the warm and fuzzy joys of subjugating and enslaving an entire race of people. Listening to Skin-nerd’s anthem, this popcorn movie must also be a warm and fuzzy history rewrite of a corrupt Nixon, and a racist Wallace. Otherwise, it was just sloppily conceived and written, more over-promoted claptrap...
Madonna can barely sing, and she cannot play any instrument. She is firmly in the Bono camp of tambourine musicianship (like Bono, Madonna can play neither the piano nor the guitar).
Madonna is against women’s reproductive rights. If Madonna ruled the world (in a Trump World, she could easily be appointed Secretary of State, making her three hops away from the Oval Office), there would be: unwanted parenthood; unwanted children; permanent poverty for impregnated teenage girls; or newborns should otherwise be given away, never to be seen again by their biological parents.
Like all so-called, “good” Catholics, Madonna feels a woman should be permanently punished for an accidental pregnancy, and she wants her millions of inculcated followers to do just as she says. As for any ambiguity in the message of Papa don’t Preach, it was embraced by anti-Choice groups, and reviled by pro-Choice ones. Madonna never offered the other side of the debate, so anyone can see that she’s promoting and singing a pro-Catholic position paper, and a bland one, as her music characteristically is.
All this from the material girl, espousing the beauty of riches, and rubbing poverty in the face of all those so afflicted, as well as the one donning a comical, conical brassiere. Most recently, she was asked to give a eulogy for Aretha Franklin. For some entirely unknown reason, she took the opportunity to talk about herself. Her most memorable accomplishment will be introducing the world to Madonna’s Hairy Armpits Revival Show — not shaving her pits was (or still is) a fashion statement of hers.
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones, ended the career of the Verve, because that band’s major hit, Bittersweet Symphony, was in the cross hairs of the Rolling Stones management. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had nothing to do with writing Bittersweet Symphony, but they get one-hundred-percent of the writing and royalty credits. This was the theme song of the movie, Cruel Intentions, a huge underground, indie classic.
That’s right, Jagger and Richards get all of the writing credit for the Verve’s best effort. The Stones dynamic duo needed a new mansion so they took down a band with a better song than they will ever record because of a mystifying copyright violation.
Carly Simon’s You’re so Vain, the perfect quid pro quo song, had to be about Mick Jagger. If you want the ultimate take down of the arrogant, pompous, and self-involved, why not write the ultimate take down song, then have the person you’re looking to get even with sing the back up. Hats off to Carly Simon!...
To get an idea of Mick Jagger’s emotional temperature, meaning his frigidity, one of his girlfriends committed suicide, he broke up with a second while she was pregnant with his child, and he has had eight children with five women. He also penned a song, a young-adult, love song, entitled Sympathy for the Devil...
Jay-Z will become part owner of an NFL team. He should rename it the Jew-Haters, after expressing his contempt of them in his music (see the following)...
Jay-Z, whose level of songwriting ability will never approach Joni Mitchell’s, recently penned this tripe:
”You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?”
Christians waste money is the message I get from this sloppy writing, but I’m sure his cheap shot meant spending money on strip clubs is somehow a higher calling. Jews don’t have any fun, but Jay-Z with a net worth of a billion dollars, has fun all the time.
As a billionaire where is he spending his money? Part of his business mission is to promote anti-semitism, and knock Jews, but he’s much richer than 99% of them. He should apologize for spreading manure among Black youth, his only market.
He’s like Trump in 2016, saying anything that will keep him in people’s consciousness. Except he sings out of key and makes tons and tons of cash while he’s at it. He needs to do community service for just that line. His claim to fame is apparently being a bad ass, but you would think he would use more words in his songs besides “hey” and “mama.” Then okay, Jay-Z is not anti-semitic, he just writes anti-semitic lyrics. Maybe he just isn’t very bright.
Am I way out of line? Jay-Z is above criticism for clear anti-semitism? Is Jay-Z the hero to kids everywhere, following in MLK’s footsteps; or is Jay-Z what MLK was hoping America would never think of African Americans?
According to Forbes, Jay Z is a billionaire. Does fake financial news leader, Forbes, mean Jay Z is a self-reported billionaire like Kylie Jenner is? It’s interesting that he recently outed himself as being anti-Semitic. In America, this only means more success, this is how you get popular. Jay Z is really pathetic how he pleads poverty that he is of such limited means, then claims how down to earth he is, compared to the likes of the Jewish people, when Shawn Corey Carter is an effing billionaire. He is just a joke.
Jay Z is a musician like Bono is a musician. In other words, like Bono, he has no conception of music theory whatsoever, but give him a tambourine, and he knows to shake it. Geez, if I knew poetry slams — even written by anti-Semitic, tin ears — paid so unbelievably, well, I would have been a rapper, no question...
Billy Joel is above reproach regarding his sensitivity towards all races? Well, no, not exactly...
Why are Blacks treated as second class citizens in Billy Joel videos? In his videos, African Americans are uniformly thieves (Uptown Girl), custodians (For the Longest Time), hookers (Keeping the Faith), and bootblacks (Keeping the Faith). Otherwise they do nothing of substance, they are only background scenery. It’s disgraceful honestly. Joel’s videos are a Klan rally. These are not videos from 1963, they’re from 1983, and later. Mister Joel owes African Americans an apology. Or if he had little say in the creative direction here, which seems a bit unlikely, then the video director owes Blacks one.
These were very elaborate videos, this is near the height of MTV, before Napster and file-sharing crippled the recording industry. The video target demographic skews very young while his music doesn’t at all. Billy went back to his mansion, his video walk-on extras likely go back to a trailer park. There must have been tension between the major talent and the very minor bit players.
The Piano Man video was filmed 10 years after that album shipped. Repackaged as videos, do these videos lessen the inherent appreciation of the musical composition? The Piano Man visualization is just like a book that was mangled on its way to the screen, or here, the song getting into music video form. In my experience, bars are not such happy places, the only exception being the Oak Beach Inn from my youth. Here they are Heaven on Earth.
Because I am from Long Island which is Billy Joel stomping grounds, and his home field, I will likely get death threats for posting this (as I Heart Radio does for everything else I write). Okay, Joel is big out this way, but he has never been that big; but just watch these videos though, they are really cringe-worthy. Does Joel get any final cut privileges over his music videos? Or any input at all into the finished product?
While the Billy Joel rap sheet is admittedly shorter than the rest of the Hall of Shame, I came across another item. Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire from 1989, sounds a lot like Reunion’s Life is a Rock from 1974. Would you agree? One more jab at this song: Did the research consist of a great, coffee table book, or an almanac? I’m guessing he didn’t spend many weekends at the East Hampton Library’s microfiche cubby, notebook and pen in hand, as the line formed behind him for term paper research...
Addendum (Rock is Whites-only)
Except for a few exceptions, Rock and Roll has been a White man’s game, it’s entirely racially segregated. Go down the list of the biggest names in Rock, and every band was all White: Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, U2, Cream, the Who, the Grateful Dead, and the Kinks, the list goes on and on. One exception that included any Blacks were The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as a few non-front man roles such as Kwaku Baah, the percussionist in Steve Winwood’s Traffic.
There have been extremely few Black Rock and Rollers. It’s been Hendrix, period, end of sentence (George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic was dance-funk not rock — rock radio has never heard of P-Funk). Okay, there’s one more, Southern rock headliners, The Allman Brothers, had one Black as percussionist, Jaimoe Johanson. Lynyrd Skin-nerd didn’t have a one. There’s no way they would, because Skin-nerd waved the Confederate Flag, they believed in racial purity. Rock and Roll is a White medium, it’s a White enterprise.
Originally, the Fifties rocker pioneers were Black. There was Little Richard, and then there was Chuck Berry’s, mildly suggestive, and rebellious act, featuring My Dingaling. Elvis Presley copped the Black’s attitude and spirit, and the rest is Rock and Roll history, make that White Rock and Roll history.
2018’s Billboard Music Awards is a billboard for the Pepsi-Cola Corporation. Not only is the floor covered with the Pepsi logo, the hosts include mention of the caffeinated, nutrition-free, sugar water in their presentations. Is there really that little money in music awards and promotion? Or is this just greed at the top level? This is so crass. They should have ugly as a zit awards, and call them, you guessed it, the Zit Awards. One could be won at the BBMAs (give one there, and to I Hurt Radio for their noisy, boring, and over-promoted “music”).
The country music genre glorifies economic deprivation by substituting the desperation of a vanishing rural life with the celebration of the home...
At the Café Carlyle in New York City, Woody Allen regularly plays in a band as a clarinetist. He once said that rock music is often pretentious. There is some truth to this, as rocks adds dramatic effect at the expense of sounding more human.
There are times when the effect is meant to be monstrous, or at least, much larger than life. Van Halen’s Eruption, and especially AC/DC, and Black Sabbath, aim for this, not so much warm and fuzzy, as dark, brooding, and solitary. Head banging tracks are packaged as male bonding. You would be hard pressed to find women into a ten minute, rambling, melody-challenged, guitar solo.
The heavy metal bands are heavy as in much metal, or much electric guitar; and heavy, as in profound, exhilarating themes. Whether they pull this off, or are more geared for teenage boys, can be debated. Mostly, this is music to get loaded by.
The Fatal Flaws of Incredibly Well-received Movies
Ashley’s Popcorn Movie was Visited by an Omen
Here’s a still from an Ashley Judd movie that can best be described as an omen to protest that Judaism was neglected in a wide-release feature:
The movie is 2014’s The Identical. It’s a fictional account of Elvis Presley’s adoption, when he wasn’t adopted, and how his real-life twin survived, when he died as an infant.
In the first scenes it paints a very rosy picture of how wonderful Christianity is. Critics panned it, but the audience had a much more positive reaction. Regardless, why is there a menorah in the bedroom of the biological parents of Elvis Presley, Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love?
What, exactly, is that doing there? This is a period piece, it is a big budget movie. A stage hand prank wouldn’t get through post-production. The cinematographer wouldn’t have allowed the shot to be framed this way.
Ashley may have signed onto this later in her career because this is what she was offered, and pro-Christian work is much better than no work at all. Ashley may be nondenominational, and a movie with morals is better than one without, like Tarantino flicks. Someone in the editing booth, or up in the Heavens above, took her, and the rest of the cast, to task for the heavy-handed, pro-Christian slant.
Ms. Judd has been given far better scripts, but she’s at the mercy of her agent past forty years of age. 4/16/20...
Follow-up: The cinematographer of the identical was a German with the Christian name of Karl Walter Lindenlaub. So he wasn’t looking for Jewish redemption. The same can be said for Frederick Shaine, the film’s editor.
The movie was filmed entirely in Tennessee which is the heart of the Christian Bible Belt. Jews are harder to find there than gold in the streets. So it’s hard to believe that the menorah was left on the set by the homeowner.
The plot thickens. 4/18/20...
(Ashley is currently holed up in Tennessee. Through a spokeswoman, she denies the movie’s purpose was anti-Semitism, but this could all change as pressure mounts against her, and the ghost reveals him or herself.)
This may solve at least part of the riddle: Ray Liotta’s preacher gives a sermon on Judaism, and includes a menorah in his presentation. This is probably the same menorah from the bedroom scene above, but it wasn’t brought yet to the Liotta church scene.
Did someone just leave it on the mantel by mistake? This movie had a $16 million budget, you would think they would do reshoots for errors, but it did have a haphazard feel in parts. The menorah does have a ghostly look regardless. Who knows the real answer? Can we get an answer from an even higher authority? 4/18/20...
Little Fires Everywhere (racial stereotypes rule)
Reese Witherspoon has been making a mint recently. Her latest, Little Fires Everywhere, has received excellent notices. The only problem is its very decided racial stereotyping (Entertainment Weekly made no mention of the severe racial disparities).
The protagonist, Elena Richardson, is White, and lives in the lap of luxury, while the African-American mother and daughter, Mia and Pearl Warren, are itinerant, and live out of their car scraping together a living.
Reese needs to have the Black family function as steppen fetchits, running around the house all day to the whims of Reese’s Elena. This way, the Blacks in her limited series, are gainfully employed, and can fully appreciate the benevolence of their White master.
Does the only believable, racial combination occur when the Black family is desperate, and the White family serves as the emancipator and savior? I’m surprised that this wasn’t written in the Antebellum South, instead of in 2017.
Parasite, A.O. Scott’s Film of the Year
A.O. Scott, lead film critic at the all-too-often, egg headed New York Times, said the movie of the year is Parasite. Just the title itself is off-putting. Naming it Parasite serves as a warning, either the title is meaningless, or the subject matter of the movie is tough to stomach.
This can’t be a romance, is it about paramecium, bacterium, viral contamination? This flick won’t be warming the cockles of your heart. Is it about the rise and eradication of parasites?
Gees, bring the whole family. Get mom and dad to go. Tell your coworkers about Parasite. This will be nothing but fun, because it’s about parasitic life forms, and who doesn’t want to know so much more about them?...
Quentin Tarantino Flicks
The reason that Quentin Tarantino devotes much more of his movies to violence and not to sex, is because America is so puritanical, and most Americans, including Tarantino apparently, are much more comfortable watching violence than sex. America was founded by Puritans, and their bias against sex is still felt today, especially in Tarantino’s flicks...
Quentin Tarantino does not know how to get a visceral response from his audiences without relying on having blood splatter on the walls of both his sets, and his actresses. Tarantino put the ending of Pulp Fiction at the beginning, so critics started calling him the greatest movie director in the history of Hollywood...
Tarantino has his cadre of film critic apologists, apologizing because his pulp fiction cinema offers his guilty pleasure of murder and blood splatter as cinematic sugar. The on-screen murders are counterpoint to back Quentin’s “progressive” causes.
The reason why critics, including those at The New York Times, apologize for his violence is because they’ re fooled into thinking carnage is high concept, and that the crimson rivulets makes important, and somehow bold, statements on the celluloid canvas.
Those believing in violence are only cowards who are actually overcome with fear, so they must carry lethal weaponry to compensate for their inadequacies. If not preparing for survivalist Armageddon, or wishing someone was murdered, they need to see reenactments of it, which Tarantino is more than willing to provide.
Everyone in this Hollywood ecosystem wholeheartedly believes there is tremendous value in human carnage, and that watching cinematic murder is not watching bloody filler, but it is time very well spent. Tarantino et al makes the egregious mistake of confusing masculinity and being cool, with rage, death, and murder.
Tarantino’s films are critic-endorsed gore. The New York Times says to go out and watch our fill of this Tarantino gore, and a sizeable percentage of Americans do just that. The Hollywood and press economy perpetuate the Hollywood blood culture. Revenge fantasies pay huge dividends in Quentin’s world. Vendettas are his only lingua franca, these are his sole mother tongue. What’s more unfortunate, is that his message of death is disseminated world wide.
Woody Allen Movies
In my not-so-humble opinion, Woody Allen is one of the four, top filmmakers alive today (the other three being the Coen Brothers, and Wes Anderson). The only criticisms I have for him are his reliance on two demographics for his characters: show business people, people of means, or usually, both traits combined.
Annie Hall details the lives of Hollywood insiders, as does Manhattan, as well as Hannah and her Sisters. Blue Jasmine, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Match Point, Midnight in Paris, Deconstructing Harry, Crimes and Misdemeanors, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, and Celebrity, feature large the well-to-do.
The economic status of the leading roles are uniformly well-off, although secondary roles are much less likely to be bourgeois. Just as Tarantino relies on blood to get his audiences interested, Mr. Allen does tend to rely on the American fascination with wealth. The sets are sumptuous, the lifestyles elegant.
Are those with more average incomes so boring, and do they lack stories that rarely warrant ever being told? Are our occupations so mundane, and our careers so depressing, that movies including them would never get substantial box office?
Are the well-to-do from the upper classes, even progressive ones, the only heroes we’re offered? We do seem to be expected to applaud wealthy heroes, yet ones with humane viewpoints. This way, we can both relate to them, but not get depressed seeing in them our own economic struggles.
On the most basic socioeconomic and class levels, we are not expected to relate to Woody’s characters, as much as we are expected to aspire towards being them.
Big Little Lies (Season One)
The best actresses of today are wasting their time (and ours, to be honest) reciting poorly conceived scripts. The television production environment maximizes story length, at the expense of the quality of the story told. The TV format chops up a two-hour movie premise into eight, one-hour episodes, or subdivided further across several seasons. It is designed to be commercial-infused, filler over a weekly “time slot.”
Each season requires the reinvention of the same old characters. Big Little Lies takes Oscar-winners and puts them into soap opera quality productions. It is all rather pathetic.
The fatal flaw to Big Little Lies is the premise. A murder is committed because of a schoolyard fight among youngsters. Could a precipitating incident be this contrived, yet be so well-received by critics and audiences alike? I really feel like I am implicating Hollywood royalty in crimes against the cinematic State as this effort is a star vehicle for Other favorites, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, et al.
Big Little Lies (Season Two)
BLL Rewrite 7/20/19. Nicole Kidman is pushing for a third season of Big Little Lies. There isn’t a script already written for any season three, so they’ll need to slap something together real quick for the Fall. The six, count ’em, female actresses — the only thing BLL has to be proud of — would be doing other films, except for the fact that they’re female and mostly over forty years of age, which means that there is no other films in Hollywood for them to do.
Hopefully, BLL does not end careers, as this wouldn’t (and couldn’t) win any Oscars, although the Television Academy has set the bar so low, and the ratings are so high, that this will clean up at the Emmys.
I hate giving away these great script ideas, but this would work: We know they must continue the Mary Louise - Celeste death spiral. So the two need to have a face off involving nunchuks. Celeste already established the masochistic angle, so pain is in the offing here. The audience has bought into suffering with the Monterey Six as well.
Okay here’s the nitty-gritty: Celeste learns tae-kwon-do, because she doesn’t want to always be a hockey puck. Mary Louise sees this, and wants in on the tae-kwon-do action, because she needs to take down Celeste for not being thrilled with being beaten by her son Perry, and also because Mary Louse wants a piece of Celeste for contributing to the terminus of Perry’s glorious existence.
It doesn’t get as raw, and as action-packed as the finale where Mary Louise and Celeste fight to the death — but whose death? In a fitting tribute to both Team Celeste and Team Mary Louise (we know you’re out there), they kill each other off. Curtain falls. The End. Collect the Emmys. Emmys speech: “I’d like to accept this Emmy for every battered wife who had to surrender custody of their children to the seventy-ish, batterer’s mother...”
Great cast, laughable premise 7/18/19. This drama series on HBO has one thing going for it, its cast. When you have Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Laura Dern in your court, how can a director go wrong? Well, here, they go very wrong with this disjointed and unrealistic mess.
One huge flaw, the premise of the entire second season really, was having a battle for child custody between Nicole Kidman (Celeste) and Meryl Streep (Mary Louise). Mary Louise is the mother of a wife-batterer named Perry, who was pushed down a flight of steps to his death. Mary Louise wants custody of the kids that Celeste and Perry conceived. Why would Mary Louise, who is in her seventies, want to adopt young children? Is a mother who raised a wife-batterer a fit mother? The whole series gets to be alien to human nature.
Streep, as per her usual, plays an inorganic, over-acted character, one unauthentic to the rest of the human race, and one trying very hard to be an imitation of Norman Bates’ mother.
Nicole Kidman’s Celeste does not identify with being a masochist, she just approves of being beaten, and beaten not because she needs the money coming in from an abusive husband (as Celeste is an attorney, and has her own means). At the risk of slut-shaming, Celeste is one. We would like to root for her, but she’s so seriously messed up that we can’t. The satisfaction the audience gets is taking pity on otherwise perfect Nicole Kidman.
In one scene, Reese puts on her wedding gown from dozens of years ago. This adds kindling to the marital flames? Is this realism? On which galaxy is this realism?
Discussions are begun with a knock at the door as though they’ve been talking for hours. Courtroom scenes are cut away to a death bed, with a Black woman and her hideous haircut. This is like the movie, The Room, which was widely considered to be the worst film in the history of cinema.
The only thing to look forward to here is seeing one of the female characters get naked, and Ms. Kidman took care of that in the first season.
There is plenty of disbelief to suspend here. I wouldn’t call this just a bad movie, I would call it cringe worthy. The value that this has as a, say, television movie of the week, is that it is a train wreck. On the Big Little Lies train wreck, except for the beauty and craft of the actresses (and the prominently-featured Northern California coastline), one can’t look, but one can’t look away.
In Hollywood, acting talent signs on to projects because of either: The money, and the added career visibility; or because of their love for the story, its message, and the production team. Here, it’s clear these Oscar winners only did it for the money — the only visibility they’re getting from this turkey is the damaging kind.
Eyes Wide Shut
The fatal flaw of Eyes Wide Shut is the imploring by the tycoon role, Victor Ziegler, that Dr. William Harford shouldn’t have went to the masked orgy because it was so incredibly dangerous. Non-exploitive, group sex isn’t dangerous when condoms are worn. Privacy of the celebrities in attendance wasn’t an issue because they all wore masks.
There weren’t stories of anyone getting roughed up for going to the famed Plato’s Retreat sex club in Manhattan during its heyday (which was more female-weighted in number anyhow). Instead of sex, drugs are the better rush to Kubrick? Was Stanley, the auteur, much more of a prude than we realized?
Jerry Seinfeld, Establishment Comedy Wimp
(Seinfeld is not a movie, he’s just a TV show.)
Jerry Seinfeld was recently given full-page access to The New York Times where he explained that he would not do political humor because he did better writing bits about raisins. “...I can talk about raisins in ways other people can’t,” the billionaire from TV’s Seinfeld said. While other more sophisticated and mature comics are doing advanced political satire, Seinfeld hones his bits about raisins.
In Seinfeld’s latest promo, he is baring his teeth for the poster of his We are Just Blessed Raisins Tour, and wow, is he ever threatening. He has a good chance of having those ivories knocked out telling the most offensive jokes about raisins. If comedians were paid for delivering stand-up requiring courage, just as George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce were doing back in the day, billionaire Seinfeld would be a beggar on Skid Row.
By cornering the market on staying out of the fray, he is the most handsomely paid comedian of all time. He would never, ever ruin his vaunted position by defending the defenseless. He just has no interest. He will be writing about raisins until the end of his time on this planet. He is the Jewish choir boy, the high priest of milquetoast. He is also a comic with a residency (at the Beacon Theater), just like Billy Joel has one at Madison Square Garden.
Seinfeld portrays himself in The Times as the comedic everyman, a tough guy, fighting off hostile crowds, ones incensed with his material, with his every punch line. Yet he only makes risqué jokes about raisins. He gets the pro-Vatican crowd at his shows. Elderly, wealthy Republicans live for his sanitized, antiseptic pablum.
The rest of the comedy world is fighting for their very lives, and for all of humanity, while Seinfeld is coaxing yucks out of anyone loving a good raisin joke. “You, sir, in the Brooks Brothers suit, wouldn’t you just love to hear another raisin joke? Hmm?...”
This is the story of the academic and interpersonal struggles of a father and daughter pair, along with the casualties caused by an environment devoted solely to exhausting the brilliant, charging them with generating newly-published theorems, when the sciences they expound upon no longer have anything new to discover.
While Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance was excellent on one level, she responded very appropriately to every dialog cue, on another level, at the performance’s foundation, she did not honor her character’s difficulties when relating to a World in which she had limited, lifelong participation. Yet her role of Catherine was somehow outgoing, and self-assured. This may be more a function of directorial guidance, but somewhere along the way, the effect of her back story had limited effect on who she was in the present day.
Then from where did this confidence emanate? Why wasn’t she shy, reserved, and deeply introspective? She did belong in the autistic spectrum in places, but this was not carried through start to finish. Was the autistic personality even studied as preparation for the role?
Here was a confident woman, who given her sheltered, cloistered life, did not seem as though her self-assuredness was a quality she should possess. Would a shy Catherine make her performance much less commercial? How did her extremely bookish environment, one removing herself from everyone else, produce someone so sure of themselves? For me at least, this confidence could not follow from the character’s initial arc.
Lost in Translation
This won Best Screenplay at the 2004 Oscar’s ceremony. The auteur, Sofia Coppola, and the leading man, Bill Murray, are revered in Hollywood, and most anywhere else in America. Yet throughout the movie, the joke in this romantic comedy is mostly on the Japanese, and Murray’s performance is typecasted from earlier ones.
Bob Harris, Bill Murray’s character, appears on a game show whose host is little more than a debasement of East Asians. If I was Japanese — and even though the host was a real one for a time — I would really be offended by how unnaturally goofy he is. Is this character someone the Japanese can be proud to have as a countryman?
Next, Coppola shows a hooker who is so sickly obsequious and fawning it is really repulsive and offensive to watch — again, the joke is on Japan. There are even more examples of subjugating Asians for comedic effect.
One other note, Bill Murray plays the usual stereotype of himself here, the same wisecracking, long suffering, put upon guy with the wry sense of humor that he always plays. The range in his characters’ personality never strays far from Saturday Night Live sketches from the 1970s.
Sofia Coppola is pulling the wool over Americans who don’t know any better. She is taking advantage of the fact that most Americans do not have any frame of reference upon which to judge these caricatures, and this includes Coppola herself. I lived in a suite with Asians in college. I can tell you first hand, that this does not represent them, in any sense. This best succeeds as a travelogue, but only as an Oscar-winning screenplay if the ethnocentrism was deleted from the final print.
Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman, is seduced by Mrs. Robinson, in a turn by Anne Bancroft. If you see their scenes together leading up to the seduction, one wonders what Mrs. Robinson, who has a college-age daughter, could possibly see in Ben. He’s not just a 21-year-old, he is a young 21-year-old. He’s not age mature, he stammers away at almost every sentence. This is a then-forbidden romance that had no point existing in the first place, because there was no basis for her attraction.
On a related note regarding the improbability of their romance, Dustin Hoffman was just six years younger than Anne Bancroft when this movie was filmed. So on-screen, they were impossibly matched regarding maturity and chemistry, while off-screen their ages were much closer.
This is considered a masterpiece in screen writing by a screen writing master, David Mamet. This all works together well, except for one thing, what is Mamet’s beef against the Vatican? The Church is portrayed as icy and villainous and no reason is given why. It is okay for Mamet to have issue with them, but after two hours shouldn’t the audience know what the issue is? It’s not for being anti-choice, not for misogyny, and not for homophobia. The Church is taken to task throughout the movie, but for no reason. Hollywood studios are allowed to simply bash the Church, the demographic-narrowing, unacceptable taboo is to offer any reason why.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The greatest play by perhaps our greatest playwright states that, ultimately, homosexuality can be cured. You can’t cop out to puritanical, Fifties America any more than that. And to boot, Tennessee Williams was gay, so he must have knew what the real truth was.
Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice
Think about this for a second: a Caped Crusader armed with only a utility belt, versus the man of steel, one possessing super vision, super hearing, and super strength. Whoever came up with this premise didn’t think this through enough. Batman against Spiderman, that might have potential, they can both climb walls. It doesn’t make for the most exciting chase scenes, to be sure, but at least the contest is not so lop-sided. Here, in this movie, people walk out in the first ten minutes quizzically scratching their heads. Ten minutes being the amount of time it would take Superman to absolutely annihilate Batman.
Then, if we can get realistic, what is a Batman exactly? A Superman is a super man, Batman is a what, a bat? How can you root on a bat? The saving grace of Batman is: his Bat Cave; his Bat Car; his boy ward, his better half of the Dynamic Duo, Robin; and his tech-savvy butler, Alfred. If Batgirl wasn’t on the scene, the whole operation wouldn’t seem a bit heterosexual (don’t forget, they wear tights, hot pants, and capes). Which I wouldn’t have a problem with, except these are beat-em-up super heroes. Honestly, is Gotham gay? For a variety of reasons, Batman versus Superman falls short of the mark, to even the casual observer, one whose closet is not entirely filled with Marvel comics.
Another failure of a Batman versus Superman movie is the fact that Gotham is run over by an omnipresent, omnipotent, pretty much unstoppable, criminal element. Mischief is regularly being caused by the Joker, the Riddler, the Puzzler, the Penguin, Mister Freeze. I could go on and on, right down the list. With Superman and Batman fighting each other, who will save this fair city? Does anyone really care at this point? — I mean considering that Gotham has gone straight to Hell. Are grudge matches between the good guys all that’s left here? Dawn of Justice? — dawn of justice for whom? Not the Gothams fighting for their very lives, and praying for salvation, but meanwhile having to deal with the pettiness of those sworn to protect them. They should just surrender their crime fighting badges, damn them.
This is the golden age of video on demand — just not of television, or cinema. Anything worth watching, or that requires a substantial production budget, has been deemed the wishful thinking of the extravagant. 7/04/20.
When is the last time Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei appeared in the same movie?
Here’s a really useful page from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) that checks to see which movies two stars appeared in together. Another not so obvious combination: Try Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore.
Two movies can also be entered to find above and below the line talent common to both (above is actors, directors, cinematographers, and producers; below is sound, camera, wardrobe, etcetera). One to try is Jurassic Park and Jaws.
If an actress is unusually good looking, she isn’t as good of a candidate for many roles. Screenwriters have to write her looks into the part. For example: Sally Hawkins at her office walking to the water cooler for a drink is not written the same way as Heather Graham doing the same. The latter has overt sexual possibilities for either hookups or flirting. If I may be brutally honest, Sally mostly doesn’t have the same animal magnetism. With Sally, her character and her character’s ally, talk about the boss’ demands for the monthly reports, and what they’ll do to settle a score beginning at page ten of the script.
There’s too much money at stake for film investors to play politics with their productions. This is even more true of huge budget blockbusters. Especially these days, Hollywood cannot afford to be political.
If you want to see a movie, that except for a couple of creepy scenes, is a classic, romantic comedy and musical, watch Meet Me in St. Louis. The headliner here is a young Judy Garland, a young Judy because this was made in 1944, during World War II. You would hardly say this about any actress today, but she is really delightful. She lights up the screen, she is a major talent even then, at the age of twenty-two. Everyone else looks like they’re only going through the motions, but not Ms. Garland, she is completely transformed into Esther Smith, her character.
There are two scenes that do not fit at all. A Halloween scene where children make fun of an apparent immigrant. The other creepy scene is when the protagonist family is considering moving from Saint Louis to New York. The youngest in the family loses it, and attacks Christmas plaster statues in the snow with a bat. The young actress, maybe an eight-year-old, hardly seems as though she is acting, and is visibly upset. Nowadays, they have set psychologists when child actors and actresses are confronted with difficult material. For instance, in Tarantino films, all child actors are afforded lifetime psychological and legal services.
An interesting theme here is keeping them down on the farm — once they’ve seen gay Paris. They chose the much more agrarian Midwest and Saint Louis over moving to New York, which we all know is the home of Satan incarnate.
One very poignant song sung by Ms. Garland had the line: “Next year all our troubles will be miles away.” The year after this film was made, in 1945, the Nazis surrendered, but in 1944, the World was still in chaos. Judy was right...
Charlatans a-plenty are selling the secrets to being a screenwriter or an actor. Can these so-called secrets, available everywhere on Youtube, be of any value, especially considering how weak their IMDb resumes are? Or are these trades all learned experientially? Therefore, is the key to portraying the human condition coming to terms with your own well-lived life story, then drawing cinematic dialog, or acting method, from the compelling lessons you’ve learned?
Violence, out of revenge, or for any other reason, is not sexy although Quentin Tarantino’s life’s work would want you to believe different. It’s just sickening and gross. And while we’re talking about Tarantino’s work, in Pulp Fiction is he endorsing heroin chic, or is he saying hard drugs are just heartache? Does Quentin glorify, and in essence endorse and legitimize, drugs, violence, and the seedy side of life; or is he saying: “Don’t play with dynamite, you’ll only kill yourself”? He definitely sounds like his message is the former, and not the latter. Somehow, Tarantino convinced himself that copious displays of carnage make for great filmmaking, and an enjoyable film going experience.
Why won’t people go to movie theaters anymore? Do you want to be in a dark room watching a movie with much darker subject matter, in a country that does nothing about its gun problem, and where there have been massacres at theaters (and anywhere else)? Why aren’t wholesome, crowd-pleasing, popcorn movies like Rocky made anymore? See the next article...
This is why movies of today suck so badly: Hollywood screenwriters are the ones who survive screenwriting “contests,” and the criteria of these “contests” are based on film school, literature themes from the 18th Century, and just as ancient formulas of conflict that makes the audience squirm in their seats, within a rigid three act structure...
Another reason: To recoup tremendous production investments, the movies rely on safe messages, stale clichés, bankable stars, and proven money-making franchises, at the expense of producing lesser-budgeted thoughtful scripts with novel plotlines and characterizations...
The other reason: Take the top twenty movies of any year in the last thirty, and at least fifteen are for teenagers at the mall — Hollywood plows their billion dollar budgets into movies that serve as baby-sitters...
And one more reason why, if I could only speak French, I would never watch another American-made movie: Hollywood has decided that the coolest thing on this Earth is to exact revenge on a public enemy, and then watch the blood gush as this score is evened — that is the premise of every Quentin Tarantino movie...
By the way, why not drop the foreign language Oscar? The answer is simple, foreign films are too competitive for Hollywood fare. The Academy relegates foreign classics out of sight and out of mind where they cannot compete against America’s continual offerings of Bloodfest 2019 or Captain Teen saves Portland...
Hey, tonight is the biggest night of the year for all you couch potatoes. That’s right, it is the annual, Television Academy Emmys. Are you really interested in mini-series, limited-series, series, and made-for-TV movies? Forget this crap, and watch a real movie.
By the way, ringleader Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live received record nominations for tearing down Trump, after he let him host twice during the campaign season. Now that Michaels’ man Trump is in, no amount of whitewash will erase the pro-Trump sentiment SNL boosted.
In Michaels bid as a publicity whore, to do anything for PR, he gave Trump the SNL platform and national visibility among deplorables he needed to become President. This may be libelous language, but Michaels sold his soul to Satan when he invited Orange into NBC’s Studio 8H, and then projected him onto the national stage. 9/17/17.
The highlight of this year’s Emmys in my estimation, were the presenters: Carol Burnett, of the Seventies Carol Burnett Show; and Norman Lear who created the ground-breaking All in the Family among many more such as The Jeffersons, Good Times, and One Day at a Time. Ms. Burnett is one classy lady, and she represents all that television could be. Right now though, talent is so diluted across a thousand TV channels that much of what is on the small screen, isn’t even watchable. Even big, movie people, like Nicole Kidman, are moving to TV, and they try to make a case for how relevant it is, but it is so marginal in terms of quality, and watchability. Others may be entirely impressed, but I’m sure not. 9/17/17.
For me, the low point of the Emmys broadcast was the ending. Not because I wanted more, but because Oprah was presenting to Elisabeth Moss. Oprah, you may know, posted on her social media a picture of Barack Obama and Trump, with the caption, “Hope lives!” She is hopeful for the Trump’s Presidency? Maybe the tax overhaul has her very interested in him. Moss is a Scientologist. So the show closed with an Oreo giving an award to a Scientologist. Where was Ms. Burnett when you really needed her? 9/17/17.
Overheard at the Television Pilot Marketing Convention
Isn’t it time you signed on with a winner, a winner like You’re Making it on Mulberry Street. The log line is: “When it’s always happening and going on, you’re on Mulberry Street.” You’re thinking, “urban, hip hop, I can dig this, and dig it big-time.” Yes, biracial, every family on the block by some odd twist of fate has biracial parents. But there’s more, the kids appreciate both Black and White cultures. They’ll listen to Billy Joel on their boom box as much as Marvin Gaye. The beauty here is that BOTH major demographic subgroups are captured — straight outta the box, from the pilot.
And what a pilot! The kids outside bicker if Billy or Marvin is heavier, just like their biracial parents are doing the same inside while making supper. The cops break up the noise, and everyone goes home for grits. Did I say this takes place in Chicago in the 1970s?! Here we have solid ratings gold bringing together the two races. Parents love this content, kids do, and so do entire communities. It’s content that’s always happening and going on, because you’re on Mulberry Street.
Hi, I am Meryl Streep!!! YES. I. AM!!!! Are you ready, America!!!! Woohoo!!!!!!! Welcome to the Seventeenth Annual Blockbuster Video Awards!!!!!!!
Why does murder sell so well?
The New York Times Fiction Bestseller List is essentially a Murder Incorporated roll call, two thirds-plus of the book titles there have premises involving murder. Where does global cinema get its book adaptations? Much of it is from bestsellers, exactly like that on this list.
If Casablanca was made today, there would have to be a sequel like: Casablanca Two: The Return of Rick.
Before Sunrise The 2017 Oscars went on and on and on last night. One started to wonder if this will this end before Sunrise. Could the cutesy tour bus segment been scrapped? Or put the technical Oscars with the rest of the technical Oscars on Technical Oscars night?
Viola Davis, the Best Supporting Actress Oscar recipient, gave the speech of the night, and a very stirring one at that. The main message was that most of our true heroes were never discovered, they are in their graves. Either they did not have spectacular lives, or they did, and hardly anyone cared, their triumphs went entirely unnoticed.
The accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers that handled the authenticity of the results may have trouble getting non-Oscars work having botched the ceremony. How can a major corporation blow something so patently simple as tabulating ballots and handing out envelopes?
As for the host, Jimmy Kimmel, he brought his stock to new heights, delivering entertainment, then peace and calm, even during a crisis never seen before in the Oscars 89 year history.
One sad note, the guy occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue claimed that the winning envelope mix up was a product of everyone focusing on him. Is this further proof that our President’s cognition is being compromised with premature dementia — that, and an out-of-control ego of a thin-skinned meany with money who was never up for the job. 2/27/17.
That’s not much, is it?
Your average star in Hollywood has even less education than your average Trump voter. Most in Tinsel Town have little or no college, because when you look as good as they do, and when you have had that much material success before your twenty-fifth birthday, why bother working at calculus problems?
My Fan Club of One
There are many, many actresses who should have had bigger Hollywood careers than they have had so far, or will ever have. Jennifer Connelly has an Oscar to her credit, but I cannot recall anything since A Beautiful Mind that had a script of the same caliber. Ashley Judd had such a stellar debut in Ruby in Paradise, then some quality action thrillers, then not so much else. I cannot say for certain if Blythe Danner qualifies for inclusion here. I will say she won a Tony but she should have won more movie roles, and more significant ones at that.
Cameron Diaz should have more roles like the one she had in Being John Malkovich. Diane Lane is a talented actress but she has not been in many major movies outside of The Perfect Storm, Unfaithful, and Walking on the Moon. Halle Barry did Monster’s Ball, but not much other significant work, probably because of her skin color and the consequent lack of roles available for those of that skin color. Heather Graham was in Drugstore Cowboys, but except for About Cherry, I do not recall her getting any important roles since then.
Kirsten Dunst does quality work but she seems to have been relegated to television. Add Maggie Gyllenhaal to that category, although she has done original film work that was not well-marketed, or well-distributed, or at least had a wide release. Marisa Tomei can be added as well for being a TV actress in Empire, even though she has an Oscar on her mantel (or wherever it is that she keeps it).
Lindsay Lohan is an excellent actress capable of compelling performances, but her past has been so difficult that, I’d guess, she may be a gamble to film investors who underestimate her box office draw. Kate Hudson won a Supporting Actress Oscar for Almost Famous, but since then, in my not-so-humble opinion, she has not been casted for much that is worthy of her talents.
Gwyneth Paltrow had a string of successful movies including Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors, and Emma, but the roles did seem to diminish once she started her family and took on the concomitant responsibilities, as well as the move into establishing her Goop lifestyle brand. Meg Ryan fell off the radar in the 1990’s somewhere around Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry met Sally. As far as I know, she has not traded in a Hollywood career in favor of opening up a full-time, dairy farm in Vermont.
Ah, zee French
If you watch enough French films, you begin to realize why the Academy, the Oscar crew, created a Best Foreign Language Film category. If they didn’t, America’s Hollywood wouldn’t be winning the Best Picture Oscar every year — France would often enough. The Academy needed to make non-Hollywood films a side show.
The French understand and can create beauty like no one else can, just look at the Louvre, which many say is the World’s finest art museum. Cinematically, French works are apparently a national effort, and often a pure flight of imagination with sumptuous sets and entirely unique characters. Hollywood, by comparison, is often an amateur hour, one pandering to children and adolescents, with wooden interpretations of linear, predictable narratives, and with their artistic vision defined by focus groups.
When Casting Casts by Type
Actresses try to take on all manner of parts, but they do seem to do better work in certain genres. For instance, Jennifer Connelly excels in serious roles in realistic settings; whereas Nicole Kidman appears on stage and screen to much acclaim in light-hearted or supernatural fare that’s an extreme departure from reality. Jenny C couldn’t be called on to play Satine in Moulin Rouge, and Nikky couldn’t play Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind.
Ashley Judd has often appeared in what Variety, the entertainment daily, might call “Chasers” — she is being chased, then by Act III, she summons available resources, and she is the one chasing down the malefactors.
Gwynnie Paltrow receives plaudits in high brow, period pieces like Emma, Sylvia, and Austin Powers in Goldmember. She can nail a British accent as if she was born there. Charlize Theron is often seen in futuristic fantasy movies, or ones with a razor-sharp edge, or at the very least, not a butter knife one.
Heather Graham makes films outside the mainstream that plays up her oversized sexual attractiveness. Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon plays the every girl next door faced with trying times, or long odds. All mostly play single women who are not mothers, because if they were attached, they would be inaccessible as fantasies...
The Deserving that Never Won what They Deserved
Unbelievably, Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for any of his films. He did win the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, for lifetime achievement. This is the official, please accept our apologies, “The Academy Screwed-up Award.” Why this is instructive is that while all his films are now considered classics, they are also considered classics of hard-core suspense — so they were before their time creatively. If you were a member of the Academy, and you didn’t care much for suspense films, you didn’t care much for Hitchcock. Hence the Hitchcock Oscar blackout.
Blythe Danner could have won one based on her ability as a theater actress, except of course, not on the film roles that she was never offered. There are likely many more deserving actors who will never tearfully accept the golden, little guy, and start gushing about how much the award really belongs to fifty others watching from home, whose names the winner carefully recites from notepad, or now, from iPhone — and the orchestra, getting progressively louder, cuts in a third of the way through the recitation. (All apologies to Gwyneth Paltrow who conveyed sweetness, and not saccharin, fake emotion; or Meryl Streep who has won so many times, she could be outside, getting her moppets to sleep, while they announce her name.)
One and Done Hollywood
Film projects that headed South can end the career, and even the lives, of those helming them. Two come to mind, Duets directed by Bruce Paltrow (Gwynnie’s Dad), and most recently, Mother’s Day led by Garry Marshall. Hollywood does not seem particularly forgiving, brutal is often the term much more appropriate. Tinsel Town, and its investors especially, embrace the “What have you done for me lately?” aesthetic. If you cannot bat a thousand every year, we will find someone who is putting up Ted Williams numbers instead. If you are not leading the pack, the pack leaves you behind, in its dust.
Work may have once been plentiful when they were getting good reviews — Mr. Paltrow was a show runner at Saint Elsewhere, and Garry Marshall created Pretty Woman — but professional interest in them definitely seemed to wane after Duets and Mother’s Day were poorly received. Both directors were dead of “natural causes” within two years after their final movie — Mr. Paltrow at age 59 of oral cancer, and I would guess, the disease was stress-advanced.
Squirming in your seat is entertainment?
I have always wondered if squirm-in-your-seat dramas, where the conflict dial is set to maximum, is the best way to present theatrical material with strong moral lessons. Take Monster, for instance, Charlize Theron’s classic. If the script was written to make it more palatable, wouldn’t its message reach a much wider audience? When movie-goers know a drama will be tough to sit through, then attendance will be lower than it deserves, and its vital theme will never be heard.
A movie-goer is entering into an implicit contract to be entertained — albeit a very brief one — between themselves and the production company. Aren’t heart-wrenching movies violating this contract? Couldn’t the producers of Monster be sued for such a violation?
Just the other day, Charli and I had a several-hour, heated debate over “where literature goes at night,” or the cinema. She said, and I will quote as she gets so riled up that she loses all her composure, and veers away from her typecast, “Gripping cinema, where Man is seen at his low point, represents a proven box office formula, they are always an ineluctable draw. More than anything else, the cinematic audience loves and embraces full-bore conflict.” As proof, she waves the Oscar at me that she always carries with her everywhere she goes.
I collect my thoughts, and slowly reply, “Do you think Schindler’s List would have done decent box office, would have had a much wider appeal, and would have spread its message of tolerance near and far, if it had only shown its paying customers any mercy?” With this, I hold out my hands to the left and to the right, and say, “How else might I own this palatial estate, with its servants, seasonal activities including Esther Williams-esque water ballets, and winter ice house carnival (LA-A/C style), etc., etc., etc., without a knowledge of cinema like Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, or Jean-Luc Godard?” At this point, as usual and in abject defeat, and knowing that she has far exceeded her authority to speak, she recants all she has said.
Seinfeld could have been more meaningful
Seinfeld fell completely flat in one area, and to me this was a most significant one. It was meaningless. Let’s hear all the important social issues raised by their ten years of prime time dominance — like morés? Don’t double dip corn chips? They were not quite All in the Family, were they?
Jerry even said that this was a show about nothing, yet that was its major fault. It was not in protest of any of life’s ills, they existed in a vacuum without any racial or socioeconomic differences. Jerry, and co-creator Larry David, did not challenge the status quo, they embraced it. For all the power that show could have exerted as being the only show watched in America then, it spent its political capital on things like Junior Mints, and Jerry’s world-class, breakfast cereal selection.
Even today, his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee does not address what is wrong on this planet, and especially not as George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, or Richard Pryor did (to name only a few), and did with such great effect.
Entertaining the tired Great Depression masses
Movies from the Great Depression had an odd fascination, bordering on obsession, with the well-to-do, and how to reprove the excesses from their unfathomable wealth.
A Hollywood Actress’ Third Act begins at Thirty
Super-hero Theory and Practice 101
Does Batman honestly need that cape? How does Batman, the Caped Crusader, benefit from being caped? Wearing one doesn’t permit flight. Wouldn’t it just catch and snag on anything sharp? It’s not to cover his eyes, because he already has a face mask.
Then again what about his tights? I could see the advantage in winter, because he needs both heat retention and freedom of movement, but why are they needed in summer? Wouldn’t they be soaked with Batsweat? Maybe the cape is just there, in conjunction with his chest-level, Bat badge, to offer the fashion illusion that he’s bat-like.
Sure, Superman had a cape as well, but he could fly. Superman’s cape was there for aerodynamic efficiencies. Batman cannot fly, he cannot get air borne, no way, no how.
All that Batman had was a too-small, utility belt that he used to help him climb walls, but Batman cannot climb walls the way even Spiderman can. Batman lumbers up the side of skyscrapers, and compared to other super-heroes’ agility, he borders on the pathetic and cringe worthy. Granted, Batman had the Batmobile and a very large array of gadgetry, but if it wasn’t on his belt, he could not use it in crime fighting battles.
My firmly held belief is that Batman was prototyped after Superman. They are different, but when they blueprinted Batman what did they have to work with? Well, of course, they had Superman, didn’t they? More astonishing is this: Was Batman really Superman 2.0? And, in fact, Batman was created in 1939, while Superman predated him in 1933.
The question might even be raised: Does Batman even deserve inclusion among the Justice League, and other elite crime fighters such as Wonder Woman, Flash, and the Green Lantern?
How did Batman get calls to investigate? It would have to be through Police Commissioner Gordon, wouldn’t it? There was a dedicated Bat phone in the Commissioner’s office, a kind of Russia-U.S. detente connection. Then the Gotham Police Department, already up to their necks in all manner of villainy — Joker, Mister Freeze, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, the list is never ending — would hand off some crime-fighting workload to the Dynamic Duo.
This is where it gets tricky, what if they are not by the Bat phone, what then, Batman? Would their butler, Alfred, answer the phone, and jot down details for the Duo? How would triage be performed with excess cases? And the caseload, it more often than not involved jewelry heists, kidnapping the mayor’s daughter, or even more anxiety-producing, the abduction of Batgirl (who always found herself to be the pawn in each of the villains’ game).
Did Batman and Robin become well-trained from handling continual repetition? Where were they trained, are all super-heroes trained there? Do they learn crime fighting domestically, overseas, a combination of both depending on curriculum? I would think the Batboat would have to be tested in the Mediterranean for European assignments. What is studied at the Academy? Is it mastering the martial arts, or countering the villain toolkit, with supporting coursework in maintaining the core objective, keeping world peace, order, and unity?
If we’re already talking super-heroes, who can teach them? Maybe it is collegial, super-heroes offer each other crime fighting tips. The comic book literature, very surprisingly, has never answered these questions.
Would Commissioner Gordon’s charming librarian daughter, Batgirl, be called upon? Were there cases she would handle best, say same-gender ones, like putting a stop to the nefarious Catwoman, or was case assignment independent of Gotham crime fighter gender? Would Batgirl go one-on-one with her bounty? When would she resort to calling in Batman and Robin? Was the protocol that if she found herself up to her neck in it she’d get Bat help? Can you answer these vexing questions, Citizen?
Clark Kent: Can we forget lunch, Lois? I need to get on these movie notes right away. This will explain everything about the industry, how I made it big in pictures, you know? Hmm, thinking, I can save Gotham while I’m at it, too, then Mr. White gives me a raise, and Jimmy leaves The Daily Planet.
Lois Lane: I thought you liked Jimmy.
Clark Kent: Well, maybe now I don’t so much. He takes a slice of Daily Planet payroll pie that I wouldn’t mind having all for myself.
Lois Lane: He looks up to you like you’re his big brother.
Clark Kent: Well, I’m not, Lois, okay?!
Lois Lane: And Superman, we don’t live in Gotham, Batman does. We’re Metropolis, remember?
Clark Kent: Dang! Why do we need two freelance, self-deputized, crime fighters around anyway?
Lois Lane: To balance municipal workload?
Clark Kent: So then how’d you know I was Superman?
Lois Lane: Well, the tights were one give-away, the cape, a second—
Clark Kent: Alright, already!
Lois Lane: Although Batman has you beat in the utility belt department.
Clark Kent: You don’t play fair, Lois.
The villain is Mia Farrow, not Woody Allen
Hatchette Publishers pulled off a hatchet job against Woody Allen 3/06/20. Dylan Farrow is a psychopathic brat of a liar, spewing lies about child molestation against her adoptive father, Woody Allen. If you go around trying to destroy Allen, how sane can you be? Woody got through two criminal investigations with flying colors that were launched against him by the Farrow clan. This included a lie-detector test that Woody took, but his ex-wife, Mia Farrow, refused to take.
Part of the reason Hollywood won’t believe Woody, is because his current wife, Soon-Yi Previn, was 27 years old when they married (22 when their romance began). Allen’s movie, Manhattan, also haunts him somehow. His leading lady in that Oscar-winner, Mariel Hemingway, was playing a 17 year old, and was 16 years old during filming. This is a far cry from being 7 years old as Dylan has claimed she was when she was sexually assaulted by the writer of Annie Hall.
Woody Allen can get have woman on earth as a romantic interest, why on earth would he want an undeveloped 7 year old? Most of Hollywood is too drug-addled, or plain stupid, to not see through Dylan’s and Mia’s deceits. There are dozens of lemming actors and actresses who will not work with Mr. Allen because they are too cretinous to see through the lies.
Mia Farrow needs to call off her dogs, her moppets. She is only an embarrassment. She’s letting her kids fight her own battles. She won’t defend Dylan’s ridiculous claims because she knows that this is all they are, fabrications. She’s fine with her daughter assuming the role of pit bull, because it’s revenge for both her vicious divorce, and fatherless fifteen kids (count ’em, fifteen). Three of the fifteen have passed away, my guess would be from neglect, but they were quickly replaced with later models.
Instead of showing Woody Allen any gratitude for giving Mia her career, this ice queen is out to ruin him, and has been for dozens of years. Her fifteen kids live for revenge, and the way she comports herself without any sense of spirituality, is just despicable. The only justice here, is that Mia’s career is long over, and Mr. Allen is still making movies.
Dylan has a brother named Ronan who, in an effort to further damage the fallen for acclaim and profit, said Harvey Weinstein had sway over Matt Lauer and NBC (see below). Television and film are not even in the same industry. Tne Farrows are the first family of slander, libel, you name it, they’re running the game in: the publishing; self-generated public relations; and TV industries. They are just as bad as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, the ones who took down Taylor Swift. They are all bad business and they know it.
Mr. Allen, and the one from Rosemary’s Baby, have claimed that Ronan may not be their biological son, but is in fact the offspring of Mia and Frank Sinatra, who married and divorced. If Frank is indeed Ronan’s real father, it would help to explain Ronan’s well-apparent joy to take down others in power, for Frank this manifested itself with ties to the mafia.
Hatchette Publishers are just an assemblage of witch-loving cowards. As for Farrow, the matriarch, she has created Rosemary’s Baby in Dylan, a spawn of Satan. To anyone with half of a brain, Woody Allen continues to be the victim of a Hollywood-wide, witch hunt, that’s trickled down from its source, Mia Farrow.
I was concerned if this might somehow be construed as libel. Yet how on earth does one show Dylan Farrow any respect? She’s a screwy, take-down, artiste extraordinaire. She’s fully hooked up with the dark side, she lives for revenge, and thanks to her Mommy dearest, will likely never experience salvation for her mounting volumes of sins. When her audience disappears, so will she...
Dylan Farrow’s brother, Moses Farrow, has stated that Mia coached the family on implicating Mr. Allen. According to Dylan’s brother, Mia was the one doing the abuse, and that she physically abused her son. For Dylan’s part, her livelihood revolves around perpetuating this myth of never substantiated abuse, because otherwise she has done nothing with her great fortune from being raised by two of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Woody casted Mia in her best roles, which she morphed into being a vindictive ex-wife with the nastiest of divorces and custody battles. Yet even Mia has stopped making hateful comments against Mr. Allen, as she no longer defends her adoptive daughter. The original sin, the villain here, is Mia Farrow, not Woody Allen...
Welcome to the Woody Allen Witch Hunt. Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, claims she was molested as a seven-year-old by Mr. Allen. Woody makes movies about adult romance, he is extremely sensitive to the human condition, and makes moview with the hottest starlets in Hollywood including, but not limited to: Diane Keaton, Scarlett Johansson, Helen Hunt, Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz — you name them, and they’ve all worked with him.
I’m trying to think of a Woody Allen movie where the leading man was getting hot and heavy with a young girl into coloring books or hopscotch. Funny, I can’t think of any one at all. Anyone know of a Woody Allen movie where he indulges in his main fantasy, four-foot-tall goddesses? Unbeknownst to law enforcement, does Woody secretly have several under-aged wives from Thailand’s sex tourism trade?
Why would Woody have any interest in youngsters that age? They’re not physically or emotionally developed in any sense. They’re flat-chested for one thing. Woody is being framed for crimes he never committed. Mia Farrow and/or her offspring must have had some incredibly bad blood with Woody, so this is the way for the Farrows to get even, and the Farrows have shown no human kindness whatsoever. This is after Allen put her in thirteen of his movies. Farrow wouldn’t have had any career at all without him.
Why shouldn’t Woody return fire, and implicate the Farrows in crimes, real or imagined? Does Dylan have a heroin habit? Is Mia deep into the sauce? Considering their crazy accusations, one would think that they would.
One more log on the Farrow fire: Ronan Farrow is an author of questionable repute. According to court forensic specialists, his sister must have a penchant for wild fabrication. They both must know much mileage you can safely get from a good lie, without fear of retribution.
Ronan’s latest screed aimed at Matt Lauer of the same dubious veracity? I’m not saying Lauer is innocent, he’s been credibly accused by others, but before anyone buys into anything Farrow and sensationalistic, the source needs to be considered. Their tall-tales are all in the family...
Rachel Maddow, who was previously of good repute, has hopped onto the Ronan Farrow, scandal sheet, gravy train:
“Rachel Maddow said that she and her staff have ‘independently confirmed’ that NBC News executives told Ronan Farrow to put a ‘pause in any new reporting’ on Harvey Weinstein, backing up a claim he makes in his new book Catch and Kill.”
—quoting AOL report
Why on Earth would NBC be protecting Weinstein? They have such a tight relationship? Cinema and network news have such tight industry relationships? How? Why? Really? MSNBC, which is owned by NBC/Universal, is Maddow’s employer, so she sounds to me as though she wants to leave MSNBC, in the worst way possible.
Farrow’s digging deep for any remaining dirt in the #MeToo movement, and tainting all of Ashley Judd’s original heroism. The entire Farrow family sullies progressives’ good name. 10/26/19...
They’re not the same People
It was a slow day at Other Letter’s Worldwide Headquarters, so we decided to yet again unravel more of life’s mysteries. These pairs of pictures are not of the same person, they are two very distinct people, living very distinct lives (except for Natasha Richardson, Madeline Kahn, and Patrick Swayze who are now deceased, God rest their weary souls):
(Still from Nine Lives
© Nine Lives, LLC.)
(Still from Break at Serengeti
(Still from Heart and Souls
© Universal Pictures)
(Still from Back to the Future
© Universal Studios)
(© 1990 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)
(© 1975 20th Century Fox)
The avid celebrity cognoscenti should also avoid confusing the following: all of these actresses identify themselves by three names. If I ever get Copyright attribution straightened out, I will post more celebrities’ images.Penelope Ann Miller
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Mary Louise Parker
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Mary Stuart Masterson
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Chloe Grace Moretz
Lisa Robin Kelly
Helena Bonham Carter
Melissa Joan Hart
If you would like to participate in our quest to uncover more celebrity twins, drop us an email with a pair of the famous that must have a common gene somewhere.
Because of my press credentials as the global leader in blogging, I have prime, front and center seating at the Hollywood trade show, the Academy Awards. I run the Oscars beat at The Other Letter, which is a bit odd since I haven’t seen any of the nominated work. I used to be a cinema aficionado, but with current film offerings, I’ve lost all interest.
I might catch one or two of the Oscar selections later on cable, but this is all typically squirm in your seat fare. Mister Oscar has decided that entertainment must have a heavy-handed message pounded into your skull via violence or excruciatingly, hard-edged drama. If the auteurs aren’t the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, or Woody Allen, why sit beside a Trump-inspired loser for two hours inside a movie theater?
Janelle Monáe opened the telecast with an electrifying song-and-dance routine. She is a cutie, now the world can see what her talents are besides just acting. This was her breakthrough performance, the one that will put her on the Hollywood map forever.
Charlize Theron and myself are comparing notes. Charli had a huge diamond necklace, or was it glass, or even plastic? If it was ice, it’d be worth tens of thousands, and easily stolen. So I’m pretty sure it was glass, or cubic zirconium.
Where are the rest of my favorite Oscar fixtures, Gwynnie Paltrow, and Nikky Kidman? Reese was at the after-party without her husband — scandalous! Gwynnie, Nikky, and Reese may not have the strongest marriages, so scowling close-ups next to their man-of-the-year are avoided by not showing up at the big show.
Ashley Judd is exploring a political race to enter — national, State, county, town, or hamlet — as long as she’s in on the action. She’s stumping for Elizabeth Warren right now, so she has an excuse for being AWOL tonight.
Brad Pitt won the Oscar for Best Looking Actor. You won’t believe whom he lost against: Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. Even more pathetic was the teaser clip for Tarantino’s movie, Once Upon a Time in Blood-red Hollywood. They had ten seconds showing Pitt’s work, and they had him breaking someone’s nose with his fist. There’s acting at its finest. Pitt ranks right up there with Cary Grant. Unlike Ashley Judd, who was never even nominated for an Oscar, Pitt will get to have his glory.
Oscars night is not a very enjoyable night for an actress such as Ashley Judd, who has a Masters in Government from Harvard University. To see Pitt win, who doesn’t have a college degree, must make her absolutely cringe. Ashley was robbed at the Oscars, and she was also the victim of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual blackmail. On this night, Ms. Judd has a quadruple scoop of Rocky-Road ice cream, with chocolate-fudge syrup, a banana split, and a cherry on top.
Diane Keaton presented. I fell in love with her in Annie Hall, then I lost all interest in her as she became a Jesus freak.
The Academy is experimenting with the hosting structure to gain back audience share. This is televised against Sunday evening powerhouse, Chicago 99, FD, FBI, NSA, which is from the latest effluvium of “on-time and under-budget” TV. What they need to do is get all the money wasted on cable mini-series, and support cinema that isn’t mind-numbing tripe.
The French do a much better job in creating films, and they do it without bloodshed, or super-hero fare. The only impediment to our emulation of great cinema, is the fact that the French pride themselves in their sophistication, and half of America are Bible-thumping hicks in love with Donald Trump.
The Academy offers a little nothing for the global community: Instead of allowing international films to compete against Hollywood’s, non-U.S. offerings are relegated to only compete amongst themselves. Hollywood could never handle it if they lost against films from outside the States, so the Academy now has the International Feature Film Oscar.
Parasite won that Oscar this year. The Times stated that it is the best film of the year, but in America, we will only recognize Tarantino’s blood fest, as the world’s best film. Hollywood simply refuses to allow a foreign film look better than an American one. The Academy functions as a very effective censor. Fame and fortune only go to American blather, the rest get the scraps.
Gees, I blew that call. Parasite won for Best Picture, but in my defense it is the first foreign language film to ever win the top award. There must have been a change to the Academy’s rules this year.
The formidable New York Times wrote that the best film of the year was Parasite, which just won for Best Screenplay. Wait, it didn’t, I must be mistaken. Half of America is looking in the trash for what they thought were losing, betting tickets, or winning tickets of someone else.
Jojo Rabbit was criticized for taking an ambivalent stand towards Hitler.
Tarantino’s carnage-fest, Once Upon a Time in Blood-red Hollywood, is starting to clean up, too bad not literally. That Tarantino needs the visceral of blood-splattered walls to tell his story, proves he doesn’t have much of a story to tell.
Laura Dern finally won her Oscar. Unlike Pitt, she’s been deserving this particular accolade.
Billie Ellish sang a nice rendition of the Beatle’s, Yesterday. Taylor Swift has a little bit of competition. Billie is too punk for my tastes, just look at her green hair.
Joaquin Phoenix won his Joker Oscar for Best Performance in a Hyper-violent Feature. Phoenix is a vegan, I am not. He doesn’t have the science to pull off his thesis regarding, well, this is rambling, it’s not about animal cruelty, it is about doing good by mankind, no, it’s, oh, never mind.
Renée Zellweger won, as expected. She’s been racking up the trophies for her performance as Judy Garland in Judy. I had hoped Charlize would win, but ultimately, it depends on the sophistication, difficulty, and novelty, of the material that the actress was given to present.
In Parasite’s acceptance speech for winning Best Picture, they had a very disarming speech from an actress of diminutive stature. Just when you think Hollywood has lost the human touch, and completely lost its way, on comes this little lady, following Jane Fonda’s presentation of the top prize. Nicely done, after all was said and done.
Although this year’s Academy Awards seemed to be a little lacking in star power. But what do I know? I’m only the biggest blogger to hit Hollywood since, well, ever. I’ll be moving backstage with my cell phone camera to join the presenters and all the winners. I love my job.
The Other Letter is front row watching the Grammys at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. My pencil is sharpened, and we are ready to roll.
Country music will be honored tonight with four awards, just like rap music will be. The question becomes why does Diddy (or P. Diddy, or is it just, P.) complain about lack of African American appreciation from the Grammys?
Does Diddy think that rap music is of the same caliber as African American, Audra McDonald? Audra has six Tonys to her credit, why is she receiving the appreciation that rappers aren’t? Compared to her, rap music is a bunch of apes screaming. There isn’t a single rap “musician” on earth who knows a lick about music theory, or even how to read sheet music. Just prop up the next Elvis, and make ’em hum another melody.
To country musician’s credit, they do tackle adult themes, but they have a problem with their political place on the American political spectrum. They are so far to the right with their passion for Baby Jesus, and rally round the flag calls that they are just plain laughable outside the South and Midwest. Country musicians would never admit it, but they brought us: America right or wrong; and the Vietnam War.
Musically these days, except for Miranda Lambert, they sound so boring, they’re just trying to push a boozy haze on America. Year after year, country and western digs their own grave, deeper and deeper.
Christianity has five categories devoted to the fraud who said, “Have ye here any meat?” following his supposed crucifixion.
Shania Twain from Canada presented. Shania is a real sweetheart, and she is still a looker.
Today’s music is so reliant on covers of yesterday’s music.
The ceremony’s music seems to tend towards the kind requiring active, engaged listening to appreciate; instead of just passive, while you make dinner music.
The Old Town Road rendition, wins catchiest song of the night, hands down. Demi Lovato had a tough act to follow.
Smokey Robinson is still Smokey. He presented, and he still has it. He finds and hits notes in the melody that his co-presenters miss.
Bonnie Raitt, another one from the Seventies, was in fine fettle and voice. She’s all of seventy-years-old.
This was nice: Preservation Hall, Dixieland Jazz, from New Orleans, Louisiana. Real musicians set front and center.
Billie Eilish is supposedly the latest and greatest (supplanting Lizzo?), but I’ve never heard a single song that either of them have ever done. I’m sorry, but the Grammys aren’t the Grammys without Taylor Swift.
There was a rousing, great, ensemble act that I thought was the finale, but there was still more. They were running past 11:30PM EST, which, except for the bloated Oscars, is a late awards show. I have a red-eye to JFK to catch.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards are live tonight from the Shrine Auditorium in sunny Hollywood. TV and cinema will be battling it out for dominance, although these days all the money is being poured into weak TV productions.
Once the economic models proved that the return-on-investment was much greater with fixed cable TV fees instead of variable-revenue theater tickets, and that TV had advertising revenues which cinema didn’t, the bar could be set at bottom for the quality of entertainment on television. Even more problematic, thousands of cable channels have diluted the talent even further, budgets are smaller, and production times are shorter.
Where you’ll see this is in Big Little Lies, which has a great cast but a very weak script. In the first season, a murder arises from a schoolyard fight. In the second one, the seventy-plus-year-old mother of a wife batterer is fighting for the child care of a pair of her ten-year-old grandsons. The premises are so far-fetched, but the productions are so well-marketed, and so well-casted.
Brad Pitt is plugging another violent movie, Once Upon a Time in Tarantino’s Brain. Pitt and Tarantino would be quick to say that a cinematic killing is not ugly, it is beautiful; it is not coarse, it is elegant; and most importantly, violence is what makes America great, and more than anything else, they want to make America great again.
Brad Pitt did win for Best Looking Actor.
I am not a fan of Scarlett Johansen’s looks: I don’t like the tattoos as well as the boobs reduction. Maybe she would have needed a walker if she kept her rack, or maybe she just wanted to go the gymnast route.
Robert DeNiro won a lifetime mobster achievement award. He is well-known for playing mobsters. More than anything else, a DeNiro performance means expressing his one-trick-pony, anger. It means “are you talking to me,” over and over again. (DeNiro flip-flopped on Trump, by the way.)
I like Tom Hanks much better as an actor. DeNiro relies on visceral, physical, raging material (not coincidentally, his biggest role was playing the Raging Bull), while Hanks’ work is more relatable. Tom is the everyman, DeNiro is every hit man.
Hey, the Critics’ Choice Awards are on tonight. I figured that this was so low-end that I could get a press pass on the stage, just sit on the edge with my notebook. As it turns out, some of the biggest names in Hollywood showed up: Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino.
Taye Diggs is hosting, and seems to be relying on improv. At the Oscars, if a host goes off the script, they rush to commercial, but not here.
I’m taking close notes here, because I’m shopping an Other Letter Awards for 2021. Our team is working on the categories and guests, but tentatively, we already have a location. It will be held outdoors, at my community’s high school. We’re aiming for an evening time slot, so I will need local residents to flood the football field with their car headlights. Gwynnnie Paltrow, Ashley Judd, and Heather Graham, may all attend, and be there to share the love.
Because the Critics’ Choice Awards honors television as well as cinema, at most, I know only half of the honorees. My take is that one-thousand channels of cable TV has diluted the writing and acting talent pools down to nothing. There are a few shows that would look interesting, but I don’t bother to find them when they’re showing on television.
What’s more, the awards seem to center around the lowest common denominator fare. Schitt’s Creek, I would try to find. For one, it has Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, the tremendous talents behind: Best of Show, and Second City TV. In my humble opinion, they blew it with the series name, but I don’t market network television for a living.
Norman Lear accepted an award for creating television. He is the sole survivor of legendary broadcasting. He produced the best TV there has ever been (with the exception of Mary Tyler Moore): All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Maude, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. This TV had societal impact and significance.
Quentin Tarantino accepted Best Actor for Brad Pitt, who was in Once upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino, aka The Butcher of Hollywood, has a very choppy way of speaking. His word choice is strange, as is his cadence and intonation. Somehow, it is as if he used mind-altering drugs, and they were still affecting him.
The theater is empyting out, as the losers leave their seats disgusted, or enraged. The only ones left, statuettes in hand, only stick around to gloat. Nicole and Charlize don’t really mind their loss, they have a trophy room with over a hundred trophies, it’s good for the next generation to win some. Although a potato was thrown at Renee Zellweiger after her victory, and it did come from Nicole’s direction.
In yet another victory for violence on the silver screen, Tarantino won for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s very sad that the only way he knows how to tell a story, or how to advance a narrative, is by having blood splatter on the wall, usually the blood of women.
What is just as sad, is that critics condone the carnage, as if this country needs more of it, and we need critics to promote it on the big screen. To Tarantino, the true sign of human maturity, is being able to kill someone. It’s not cowardice, it’s somehow bravery by his calculus. This is the ultimate catharsis, the best revenge, and spilling blood is the greatest gratification.
I am sitting front row at the Beverly Hills Hilton, notebook PC on my lap, bringing you the story of the 2020 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Awards, aka The Golden Globes.
First off, Ryan Seacrest of E! News is the most touchy-feely Red Carpet host I have ever seen. If he really wants to show his interest, why doesn’t he just cop a feel.
On the Red Carpet, it’s easy to tell who didn’t have a partner. They scurry like rats across the all-weather carpeting to avoid the paparazzi.
These women all look great, especially my selections, the Pantheon of Hollywood Women. The reason they are so beautiful is because they divide their time between two jobs, being on the movie set, and being in the gym, working-out. This is all that they do, nothing else.
At the Oscars they joke about how difficult it is to park your Rolls, Gervais jokes about how he just heard the canapes that everyone’s eating have E. coli.
Everyone is worried about the Aussie forest fires, especially Nikky Kidman and Russell Crowe, who call this parched outback their home (now it’s a very parched outback). Please check the purchase price on your admission ticket.
Ellen Degeneres got a Lifetime Achievement Award for Comedy. Let’s listen in while Ellen deadpans... Okay, enough of Ellen deadpanning....
Quentin Tarantino won the Golden Globe for The Butcher of Hollywood, because of his reliance on violence to advance his narratives, and to avoid being bored to tears watching his movies. With his acceptance speech, he’s promoting how deep his craft is. Tarantino has misspent most of his life erroneously trying to show that violence and revenge is macho and cool. Violence is a means to an end in his cinematic universe, this is how to solve problems. Meanwhile, Alfred Hitchcock could create suspense without a drop of blood appearing on any frame.
Joker was also from the Tarantino school of extreme violence. In case these directors haven’t noticed, we have a sickening problem of violence in this country. Do they think showing carnage and bloodshed makes their audience more peaceful, or more aggressive, and possibly resorting to violence because that’s the same catharsis shown in their movies?
Margot Robbie is a real cutie, but in a way, she’s a cutie professionally. Then, of course, there’s Taylor Swift, a cutie non pareil (without parallel or equal). I’m retracting that compliment as Margot is Tarantino’s arm candy, she’s his yes-woman.
Wow! I’m just shocked! Gwynnie was wearing a sheer blouse, and anyone can visibly see black and blue marks covering her body! Get that woman away from Bradley, her so-called husband! He’s not any good for her! Gwynnie needs someone in Internet publishing, a blogger perhaps? If you know Gwyneth, please pry her away from that monster of a husband! Gwyneth, if you’re out there, there is a future for survivors of domestic violence! You just need to look!
Is this a fair comparison: the every man of Tom Hanks, with the every man of Jimmy Stewart? Their politics were different, but the final portrayal on the screen had a humanity which shone through for both. Hanks won the Cecil B. Demille Award for industry leadership.
Nicole Kidman, with her husband beside her, almost looked in anguish as the camera scanned the room. Then, she looked better. I can’t say for certain, but who once might have been the love of her life, certainly doesn’t seem to be so anymore.
Violence did very well tonight at the Golden Globes. Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wracked up the awards. The Butcher of Hollywood, aka Tarantino, won for Best Comedy of all things. The Weinstein Company backed all of Tarantino’s previous films. The Butcher is as mainstream, and as violent, as they come.
Renee Zellweiger won for her role as Judy Garland in Judy. This has been a comeback for her. If you ever saw Chicago you know that she is a great actress. She gave a longish speech, but she certainly has a sweet heart.
Gervais is so blasé about presenting, it’s become the core of his act on these awards ceremonies.
1917 won for Best Dramatic Movie. Without big name movie stars, this war movie needs word-of-mouth from winning a Golden Globe to recoup its investment. Again, violence is a real draw in Hollywood. Americans have a palpable thirst for blood.
The Emmys were on TV in America very recently. Whoop-dee-do! This is a celebration of mediocrity and dumbed-down “entertainment.” Looking out onto the Oscar’s Dolby Theater, I can recognize anyone, in any row. Doing the same at the Emmy’s Microsoft Auditorium, I cannot recognize anyone, anywhere.
The last time television did anything worthy of the medium was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and that had its final curtain call in 1977. The major problem I have with TV is that it’s entertainment on the cheap.
It’s at half cost, with half the production values. It takes half the time to prepare and write, and the result is one-hundred-percent drivel. Writing for television was once divided between three networks. Now the same talent is diluted over hundreds and hundreds of networks.
American television is an embarrassment, there’s nothing worth watching. Just like cinema today, and their dependence on super-hero movies, TV is mostly geared for kids. Today’s version of Mary Tyler Moore Show, representing television’s finest hour, is The Big Bang Theory. After eleven of its twelve seasons it ranked number one in America, yet it was not watchable, unless you’re a STEM grad student (science-technology-engineering-math).
Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live won for the greatest capitulation to the powers that be. SNL allowed Trump to host twice during his run-up to the White House. Michaels neglected to mention how his superior financial resources from his inferior SNL, took the talent from, and cancelled, these superior, production companies: National Lampoon, Second City Television, and MadTV.
Michaels in accepting his Award of Capitulation, made a teary reference to someone who overate and smoked too much. He went on to say that teary-eyed tributes to dead SNL players is what it’s all about at 30 Rock, and that they’ve been grinding out the show for forty-five years.
Five of the first years were actually watchable. The rest were over-promoted filler that most over thirty-years-of-age haven’t watched since they were twenty, and when the not-ready-for-prime-time-players were: Gilda Radnor; Lorraine Newman; Jane Curtin; Garrett Morris; Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray (whose long-suffering, wise-cracking roles haven’t stopped since the second season, Murray wasn’t part of the cast from its inception).
When the Game of Thrones took their final bow, Bradley Palchuk was clapping whole-heartedly, but Gwynnie Paltrow, his wife of twelve-months standing beside him, didn’t clap at all. Gwynnie must think of herself as Oscar-worthy in an only Emmy-worthy crowd, which includes her husband.
Gwynnie must have also realized that they blew it with her Oscar-winner, Shakespeare in Love. If they only knew of GoT’s decapitation, entertainment formula, Shakespeare could have went over that all important $500 million box office, threshold. Violence is completely acceptable television, sex is verboten. This is conclusive proof that TV is made for kids.
By the by and by, did you notice Gwynnie geisha-girling it to the podium when she presented? Turns out, her vintage, 1963 dress didn’t have back slits. Guess what she forgot? Do you remember when she was Polly Perkins in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow?
Unfortunately for those having time to kill on a weekday night, television will always play second-fiddle to cinema, TV is a waste of broadcast spectrum. PBS can do a much better job, when it doesn’t go the egg-headed route. Sports is also a good fit with the medium, but not much else is worthy of the time spent in front of the boob tube. 9/22/19.