Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yes, I Know the Way to San Jose

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be heading to San Jose for my 11th Bruce Springsteen show, and I'm really looking forward to this one since it is the first show of the tour. Even though there was a hint of what might be played in his rehearsal shows last week, I suspect that there will be some major surprises tomorrow night. I'm probably looking forward to this one more than any show since the 1999 reunion tour. And for the third straight show, I'll be going with someone who is seeing Bruce for the first time - always a treat. Oh, yeah - this will also be my first show seen from the floor, although by night's end I may not be so excited given my advancing decrepitude.

I was hoping to post a review of the only show I've yet to review on the site, Sacramento 2003, but alas work has conspired against me. Too much to do; too little time. But there will definitely be something up later this week about tomorrow night's show.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scenes From the Office

The sign says, "Please move me over there."

Just In Case You Missed It...

He's back.

And that strange sound you heard last night around 5 pm PDT? That was Tim Finchem's sigh of relief.

Bob Dylan Was Wrong...And Right

It's that lovely time of year in the Sacramento region where the north wind blows, drying up everything in sight, including one's skin.

But, committed to a regimen of running I am, and so I ventured out into the maelstrom yesterday afternoon. Not the best decision I ever made.

In any event, because of the experience I can assure you that Bob Dylan was wrong - the answer, my friends, is most definitely not blowin' in the wind.

On the other hand, Bob was correct when he said that you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. And thank you Rick, for pointing that out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Buddy Holly and the Crickets performing on the Arthur Murray Dance Party. Kathryn Murray's introduction is hysterical, as are the mannequins which make up the audience. You'll note one lone guy, at the upper left hand of the shot, who can't help himself and is actually moving to the beat. You have to wonder if they knew exactly what it was they were watching.

Friday, March 27, 2009

OK, If You Say So...

This has always been one of my favorite Talking Heads songs.

My favorite verses:

I see the states, across this big nation
I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
I think of the ones I consider my favoritesI
think of the people that are working for me

Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong
I'm a lucky guy to live in my building
They own the buildings to help them along

And no, I'm not entirely sure what it means. I just like the way that it sounds.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I've Got Six Words For You

"One of the best performances of the night."

What? That's 8 words? Oh well...close.

And thanks so much, Simon, for validating Smokey Robinson as a great songwriter. I'm sure he'll sleep better tonight with the knowledge that Simon has deemed him great.

I'm Having a Blast

It's on a night like this on "American Idol" when you realize how full of sh*t the judges really are.

"You need to dominate the song instead of letting it dominate you?" I mean, sorry...but what the f*ck does that even mean?

Oh, but it's about artistry. Excuse me, but as I heard on Scrubs tonight, I'm ga-vomiting.

And you know what? When it's Motown night, they're doomed to be bad song choices. Because, and forgive me, but how many of these kids are really going to out-perform Smokey, or Diana, or The Temptations, or Stevie? None of them, that's who. Because the creators of those songs really were artists.

These folks, on the other hand, are just singers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nick Lowe

On the occasion of his 60th, let's all wish a happy birthday to Nick Lowe:

Not the Way to Start the Day

When the part of town you live in requires that you cross railroad tracks to get to the freeway, and there are two main arteries which lead there, and a train is stopped on the tracks and blocking both of them...well, that's not a good thing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baseball Hall of Famers I Saw Play In Person

For pitchers, the rule was that I had to actually see them pitch, as opposed to seeing their team play.

Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith, Willie Stargell, Don Sutton, Billy Williams, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, and Robin Yount.

The Warmest Spot in the House

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Now If We Only Had Some Green Beer

I'm about to enter what could prove to be a very difficult meeting, but it's St. Patrick's Day and I'm wearing a green tie that my parents bought for me at the Vatican. So we'll see if that helps...

Advice for AIG and Senator Grassley

Ann Althouse is feeling feisty today (just like every other day). A great post.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Catching Up on Films

I made a New Year's Resolution that I was going to comment on every movie I saw this year, and here it is not even spring and I've fallen behind. This isn't going to be the detailed kind of commentary that you'd find elsewhere, but it will allow me to proceed with a clear conscience.

The Times of Harvey Milk. The first movie I've watched all the way through on Hulu.com. A very solid documentary, with narration by Harvey Fierstein and commentary by a number of people who worked closely with Milk during his career, including Tom Ammiano, Henry Der and Bill Kraus (who would become on the major players in Randy Shilts' "And the Band Played On" just a few years after Milk's assassination). Anyone who lived in California in 1978 will remember the awful day when Milk and George Moscone were assassinated, but until "Milk," there were probably few who knew the complete story about Milk's rise to prominence in San Francisco. Even with the awful ending it is a great story, and it leaves the viewer with an unmistakable sense of "what might have been?" Seeing Bill Kraus and going back to read portions from the Randy Shilts book, you can't help but wonder what role Milk would have played as the AIDS crisis began to unfold in the early 1980s.

Johnny Guitar. I'm not quite sure what to say about this one - a very odd movie, albeit an interesting one. A stylized Western that feels nothing like the great John Ford and Howard Hawks Westerns of the same period, with performances that grab one's attention but often seem teetering on the brink of pure lunacy. Joan Crawford is always on the edge, but the out-and-out insane performance of Mercedes McCambridge makes her seem downright subtle. Great to see veterans like Sterling Hayden, Royal Dano, Scott Brady and Ernest Borgnine, though you have to wonder what they were thinking while this one was being made.

Memento. Proof positive that we are nothing if not slow. This one was all the rage - oh, about 6-7 years ago? - but somehow we managed to miss it, even though director Christopher Nolan has gone on to become all the rage (Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight). As probably everyone in the world knows by now, the movie tells its story in reverse, which is perfectly effective at invoking in the viewer the same sense of loss that Leonard, the main character who can no longer form short-term memories, feels. Guy Pearce is terrific in the primary role, and both Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss are excellent in supporting roles as characters whose paths cross that of Leonard's, in his quest to find and avenge himself upon his wife's killer. The gimmick (for lack of a better word) may leave a lot of people wondering what the hell is going on, but it certainly makes you stand up and take notice.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Even More Madness!

Great March Madness Moments #3: Bill Walton, in one of the greatest single game performances in tournament history, scores 44 against Memphis State in the final to lead the UCLA Bruins to their 7th consecutive NCAA championship.

Play Ball!

The Pleasant Grove baseball team got to play a game at Raley Field last night, and even though they got their arses handed to them (losing to Franklin 9-1), it was a lot of fun. It was probably the largest crowd the kids will play in front of all year, and the kids in attendance were suitably supportive and rowdy.

I was able to snap these pics with my trust Blackberry.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Madness

Well, before last night this was probably the greatest game in the history of NCAA basketball. Christian Laettner hits the shot off the miracle pass to stun Kentucky and win 104-103.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Not Bad For A Day's Work"

The sight of Benton and Carter together again would have been good enough. Add Ernest Borgnine and Susan Sarandon to the mix, and you knew you were going to get something memorable. And when you saw the name of John Wells as both writer and director, you knew that this could be something really special.

And then, with the first glimpse of Doug and Carol, you knew that tonight's ER was the reward for all the fans who have stuck with the show through thick, thin, thinner, and everything in between.

What a long time it's been since this show debuted in the fall of 1994. The son that I now watch the show with every week was about a month old, and George Clooney was an actor best known as the nephew of a famous singer. The son is now a freshman in high school, and Clooney is the biggest movie star on the planet.

This final season has been like a never-ending reunion, but they've done a pretty good job - the terrible Sam storylines nothwithstanding - of giving the show's current characters a chance to enjoy the spotlight along with all the old stars. But few moments from them could match the sight of Peter Benton, standing up to the arrogant surgeon preparing to operate on his friend John Carter, insisting that the surgical team complete the surgical checklist before beginning Carter's kidney transplant.

And the juxtaposition of scenes between Carter's kidney transplant and the County patient's heart transplant harkened back to some of the show's greatest moments.

Nice job.

It's Almost Heeeerrre...

Great moments from March Madness #1: The miracle of Tyus Edney, 1985

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Let's Enjoy Some More Transcendent Badness

The question arose as to the difference between mere badness, and transcendent badness. I think this video may help to illustrate the difference:

First, let's consider the song: "Billy, Don't Be A Hero." I hope that we can all agree that this is a pretty bad song. But the first step in its favor of becoming transcendently bad is the fact that, bad as it may be, you hear it one time and you're pretty much sunk for the rest of the day. You hear it in the car radio on the way to work, and good luck trying to think of any other song that day. So essentially, you're forced to consider, even confront, the song.

Now, lay on top of the song, the name of the band: Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. What exactly is a Heywood, anyway?

Now let's consider the performance. Now, in all fairness to Bo and the boys, this clip may be evidence of nothing more than a bad syncing job when someone decided to post this on You Tube. But for the sake of argument, let's pretend that this was the band performing on American Bandstand, sometime in the spring of 1974, and that Bo (actually, I'm not even sure Bo was the lead singer, but no matter) just did a really crappy job of lip-syncing - something that occurred pretty frequently on the show.

And finally, just take a gander at those outfits. The icing on the cake, the piece de resistance, the final ingredient which clearly punts "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" out of the realm of the merely bad, and into the land of Transcendent Badness.

Enjoy! (Or not.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Compare and Contrast

"This might not be the most ideal place for a lot of people. But I'm my own guy. I beat to my own drum, go with my own thinking, my own intuitions.''

- Terrell Owens, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

"Personally, I know I'm not the player I need to be, or the player I want to be. I remember learning about how hard Jerry Rice worked every offseason, even when people recognized him as the best in the game, because he knew he needed to get better every year. That's the way I want to work.''

- Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals

Monday, March 09, 2009

Well, OK...It's A Little Unusual

Let's start the week with a little Tom Jones, if for no other reason except this was the first song we heard on the radio this morning.

I can't lay claim to owning any of his albums (I do own his version of Prince's "Kiss," which is a hell of a lot better than you might think), but I've always liked Tom Jones. Even saw him perform live once, back in the days when my aunts would take my brothers and I to a show during our annual weekly trip to Lake Tahoe. I think it was Robert Christgau who called him the missing link between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley (or something like that), and that's as good a description as any.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Watching the Watchmen

The reviews have been all over the map on Watchmen, and I can see why.

I thought it was very good, but with the exception of Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, it didn't approach the greatness of the source material. Watchmen was a visionary comic book, one of the first to be deserving of the term "graphic novel." I agree with the reviewers who noted that it was probably impossible to replicate that vision on the big screen.

The movie begins with a flourish - The Comedian's death scene is brilliantly handled; as are the opening credits which provide backstory for many of the key characters. And importantly, it is in those credits where the movie deviates a bit from the original story, while staying true to its vision. I can understand why the filmmakers chose not to go this route, but had Director Zack Snyder and the screenwriters taken a few more chances like that, it might have pushed the movie into the realm of greatness.

Having said that, this may have been the best possible Watchmen movie that could have been made. Watchmen is subtle in comparison to 300, Snyder's last film, but there are times when it feels almost too reverent. It's a very dark story, but it would have benefited from a touch of humor here and there. The use of music is great, and I especially enjoyed the snippet of a muzaky version of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" during a scene with Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias. Jackie Earl Haley is the obvious bright light of the cast, although everyone acquits themselves admirably. The actor portraying Ozymandias was a bit lacking in gravitas, but not enough to detract from the proceedings.

I'd hesitate to call it a disappointment - but in the end, Watchmen doesn't quite match the original, and is not in the same league as The Dark Knight or Iron Man.

Management's Not Happy

"This is serious, Michael. Management's not happy."

"Unless she's got an invisible helicopter, we should be fine."

"That's enough rough-housing, boys." "AHHH...it's always fun until someone gets hurt!"

And those were just the best lines before the first commercial break.

In its first season, "Burn Notice" was a fun romp, the perfect summer series, featuring a great cast, great action, and fun (if sometimes inplausible) plots. The second season turned up the entire enterprise a notch, adding a level of depth and tension that was only hinted at in Season One.

We watched the season's final four episodes last night (hadn't been watching them live, because of my undying if somewhat mystifying loyalty to ER), and that really was the perfect way to do it, because it allowed us to see the entire "Victor" arc unfold, and watch what began as a comic, evil alter-ego to Michael turn into a tragic figure who would ultimately provide Michael with his greatest moment, to date, in the entire series.

The season finale, directed by Tim Matheson, was absolutely terrific, providing great moments for every one of the show's major characters. It provided satisfaction with an appropriate end for Carla, and tension in the introduction of a new character (John Mahoney, as "Management") who promises to make Michael's life a living hell in Season Three.

Can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Celebrating the Greatness of a Great Song

We’ve celebrated some badness here lately, so today – being that it’s the end of a long and tiring week – let’s celebrate some greatness.

Namely, the greatness that is the song “Wichita Lineman,” written by Jimmy Webb. I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to call the song an American standard. What can you say, except that it’s a beautiful song?

First, we have Glen Campbell in his prime.

And then, more than two decades later, R.E.M. performs the song, in a heartfelt tribute.

And finally, back to Glen, just a couple of years ago, with many miles of road behind him, no doubt wiser for the experience.

And there you have it, folks: Wichita Lineman Friday!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Run For the Hills!

OMG...the President is going gray!

Good grief. I'm the same age as the President, and I barely have a brown hair on my head. It happens.

More Badness!

I'm in the mood for some more transcendent badness, and of course there is no better example of that than the legendary "Run, Joey, Run."

The video, as billed, is indeed corny, but the important thing here is the song. This song is so melodramatic that it makes Meat Loaf look subtle.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Transcendent Badness

There are great songs, there are good songs, and there are bad songs. And then there are the songs that are so bad - so patently awful - that their awfulness transcends mere considerations of "good" and "bad."

Such a song is "Honey," by Bobby Goldsboro. Now, I have a confession to make - back around the same time that I was enjoying my first Beatles album, around the same time that I was really getting into Creedence Clearwater Revival, around the same time I was loving "Honky Tonk Women" on the radio - I thought Bobby Goldsboro was one of the coolest dudes on the planet.

But as you can see from the video below, "cool" is not really a word that can be applied to "Honey." There is hardly a verse in the entire song that is not worthy of ridicule; yet, it goes so far beyond what one would usually consider "bad" that it comes out the other side, and can be enjoyed on its own terms.

And so in the first of a series that I'll be calling "transcendent badness," songs that Leonard Pinth-Garnell could truly enjoy, I am proud to present Bobby Goldsboro, with "Honey."

Monday, March 02, 2009


Well, I will say this...when 24 does it right, it really does it right. Sure, much of this season has been "idiot-plot" ridiculous, but tonight's two-hour episode was as good as anything I've seen on the show, since we started watching in Season 4.

The mid-season "almost climax" has become a tradition on the show, and tonight's was the best yet. Whether the rest of the season matches up is an open question, and there are still plenty of idiotic family members to dispense with. But it's good to know that the show can still be great entertainment, when it puts its mind to it.

Don't Even Think About It...

Let's start off the week on a high note, and set aside the fact that the 7:30 a.m. dentist appointment I dutifully showed up for this morning is actually next Monday.

In all their glory, from their prime, The Band plays a terrific cover version of the Marvin Gaye classic, "Baby Don't You Do It."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Carson Classic

I remember seeing this one the night it aired. If I'm not mistaken, this was the night before Thanksgiving 1978. When Ed McMahon was away, Doc would play announcer (and Tommy Newsome would lead the band), and join Johnny in the "sidekick" role. As this clip makes clear, Carson and Severinsen had an easy rapport; probably just as strong as that which Johnny had with Ed.