Monday, June 29, 2009

Song of the Week

Michael Jackson – Ben/Human Nature
This week it would be hard to talk about any other music except Michael Jackson’s I spent the weekend watching hour after hour of Michael videos on MTVJams. In keeping with theme of this regular feature, I’d like to focus on a couple of underappreciated Michael tunes. Ben was one of Michael’s first solo outings and he recorded it at thirteen! Ben was a theme song for a movie of the same name. A love ballad from a boy to his pet rat brings a tear to my eye. The emotion Michael can put behind this song is amazing. We’ll forget that this film was about a trained killer rat. When I hear this song today, I think of mine and my sister’s beloved rat, Vito.
Second up is the 1983 track, Human Nature off the mega-juggernaut Thriller album. This has always been my favorite off this album and I feel it’s stood the test of time better than songs like PYT and Thriller. It’s one of those songs that I refer to as an “ache” song. When it comes on the radio you’re washed over with nostalgia and the mind starts to wander down memory lane. Human Nature always makes me think of summertime and kickin’ back, sipping a Coke and enjoying that there’s no school tomorrow. In memory of Michael Jackson, I hope you’ll give these two songs a new listen.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson - A Tribute

I was simply stunned to hear of the passing of Michael Jackson. It was difficult for me, as I’m sure it was for so many Michael fans. Over the years he’s slipped into such a bizarre side show freak, it was difficult to see the King of Pop we loved our whole lives.

Now, because of such a tragic demise, we’ll forget all that. We’ll remember the music, the boy, the man and all he did for music. He made everyone take notice of R&B and broke ground for African-Americans on mainstream airwaves.

I was at work when I heard the news of his passing. Then my sister called me. Everyone was on the phone talking to someone. I was okay. It was shocking, but I really didn’t have any emotion behind it.

When I left work, I got in the car and started the engine. In a true serendipitous moment the car radio came on. I had left it on Alice 97.3 FM, a station that never plays Michael. Of all the songs they could they choose, it was my all time favorite, “Rock With You,” from the Off the Wall album. This will always be the greatest Michael album. I listen to that song at least once a week. I started to cry and then I cranked it.

I turned my radio volume to 60. I’ve never turned it that loud. I wanted to physically feel the music. It was there beating into me and I rolled down all my car windows and became the “Traveling Michael Jackson Tribute Mobile.”

On my way home I heard Thriller, PYT, Off the Wall…when Human Nature came on my hand went to my chest, oh the ache.

Remember the music and the times in our life it defined again and again. It was a strange and crazy trip.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien

So how's Conan doing as the new host of The Tonight Show? I, for one, couldn't be happier. I finally have my perfect late-night lineup. I can brush my teeth, hopefully remember to put on eye cream and hop in bed. First I start with The Daily Show - I can laugh alittle - Jon Stewart can drop some knowledge on me and then I can click right over to Conan. When Conan took over for Letterman, I was one of the few who believed he'd make it. I'm so happy that NBC followed through on their hosting switch this time. Yet, they always seem to muck it up somehow. I'm completely against Jay Leno having a 10 p.m. show five nights a week. What's up with that? He's had his day in the sun and now he needs to politely step aside.

It's great to see the whole band, Triumph and Andy Ritchter! The only suggestion I have is to bring Andy out from that podium and let him sit on the couch. He's got great banter with Conan, but there's a coldness with him so far away.

Check out this hilarious clip from the show and tell me if Conan isn't bringing the funny to late night television.

Up - Movie Review

Pixar Does It Again!

What can I say about my experience seeing the new Pixar flick, UP? Look it’s no secret that I cry at everything, but my tears started during the short film, Partly Cloudy, and never let up. Once we were at the actual main attraction, the silent montage of the main characters life with his wife, was enough to have me so swollen eyed I might be unable to physically even see the rest of the movie!

Every time I think Pixar can’t pull another one out of their hat, I’m happily surprised. When I saw the promos for Up a year ago I thought, “Yeah, okay, old dude and a bunch of balloons. How is that possibly going to carry a whole film?’

The love and devotion that goes into each of their projects truly shines through. It gives me hope to see such a high caliber of children’s film after getting previews for Aliens in the Attic. Not even kids want to see crap. We all want to be told a great story with interesting characters. Pixar not only delivers, they exceed time and time again.

I did see this in 3-D and it’s certainly not necessary, but since I’m a huge fan of animation, I wanted to enjoy ever nuisance that technology could offer.

The only criticism I have is the talking dogs. While Doug the dog was perfect comic relief, the whole pack of trained dogs almost took me out of magical world and into too much to ask of my imagination. It’s a fine line so I’ll cut them some slack.

See this on the big screen. Take a kid, go with a friend, go by yourself, it doesn’t matter; just don’t miss the sweet, life affirming film.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Song of the Week

Go All the Way – The Raspberries
What a naughty little song from 1972. I inherited an extensive 45’s collection from my siblings (one of the perks of being the youngest) and this one probably belonged to my older brother. I remember putting this one on the turntable and thinking, “I probably shouldn’t be listening to this.” But in 1972, pop songs didn’t throw in an obligatory curse word or be extremely graphic in singing their tales. Instead we used our imagination to picture this sweet girl pleading her guy to go all the way. This is song that deserves a new listen. It actually still sounds great today and it is a great driving song to roll down the windows and crank it! I always thought this song should have been in a movie, or at least in Eric and Donna’s consummation episode of “That 70’s Show.” After all these years, it’s still a pretty sexy song!

Land of the Lost - Movie Review

Great Escape in the Summertime?

Once you decide to make a film version of the Sid and Marty Kroft’s classic Saturday morning kids show, you only have two choices. You could make a very dark dramatic film about a family trapped in time with danger at every turn, or you can cast Will Ferrell and camp it up for cheap laughs.

Choosing the latter is interesting because unlike The Brady Bunch or Starsky and Hutch, this adaptation would have work dramatically. The one thing that kept every kid coming back week after week was those Sleestaks! They were effectively creepy and the one element not changed in the screen adaptation.

If you’re expecting a remake of your beloved Saturday morning TV show, you’ll be greatly disappointed. If you’re looking for silly potty humor, cool effects, show tunes and tons of Will Ferrell, then this will fit the bill for you. Ferrell is not stretching himself as an actor here. He’s giving the same performance we saw in Anchorman, Talledega Nights and Old School. He’s a boob, but we love him anyway.

All Will Ferrell movies seem to come in at a solid “B” on the comedy level. A few huge laughs are guaranteed, but it never quite reaches the classic comedy level of a Young Frankenstein or Animal House. The exception to this is Elf. Elf is still Will Ferrell’s best work to date. He was able to transcend his character to lovable yet genuine no matter how unrealistic the plot seemed. It’s ironic that this is his most believable character when the ones with realistic jobs, come off so cartoonish.

You may think I don’t like Will Ferrell and that’s wrong. I enjoy all his movies and I think he’s hysterical. However, I’m ready for him to step up his game. I want him to go from making good comedy to great comedy. If you like Will Ferrell and low-brow humor, Land of the Lost is going to fit the bill for fun summer entertainment.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Song of the Week

Just Missed the Train – Danielle Brisebois/Kelly Clarkson
If you’re a mature audiophile, like me, you may remember Danielle Brisebois from “All In The Family” and “Archie’s Place.” She was cast opposite Carroll O’ Connor in a classic “jump the shark” move for a dying sitcom. Add cute kid, crotchety old man, hilarity will ensue and the show will be revived. This never works. I also remember them trotting out Danielle’s singing talents on a regular basis. The whole Broadway Baby thing really got on my nerves. Having been in the original cast for “Annie,” she was qualified, but annoying. Later, Danielle’s claim to fame was being a member to the New Radicals. However, they really only had one hit with, You Get What You Give. I was curious though to hear what her voice sounded like as an adult so I took a bite and ordered a used copy of her 1994 CD, “All Over You.” I was pleasantly surprised. I listen to this on a semi-regular basis and I really enjoyed the track, “Just Missed the Train.” Then I found out Kelly Clarkson covered it on her debut CD. This solidifies my recommendation of this track. It’s not just me! I’m always a sucker for the original though, so although Kelly delivers a powerful rendition, I’m putting Danielle’s original cut as this week’s pick.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Song of the Week

I’d like to introduce my first regular feature. Every Tuesday, I’ll post a new/old song as my Song of the Week. Not to toot my own horn, but I feel I have awesome taste in music. This weekly feature will focus on a song you may have never heard, or one that you forgot about. Often, I find I like a song, only to become obsessed with it years later. I’m a “song stalker.” Once I zone in, I will hit the replay button over and over again. As an iTunes user, I’ll let you know if the song is currently available for download. Sometimes, though, I can’t help myself, and I must highlight a harder to find song. Seek it out; you won’t be sorry!

Bad Days – The Flaming Lips
Do not confuse this with “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. The always obscure Flaming Lips probably came closest to pop success with this 1997 diddy. I heard this tune on the “Batman Forever” soundtrack and it was probably the only good thing to come out of that film. What an anthem for the working grunt. It doesn’t get better than lyrics about blowing up your boss! This is currently available on iTunes. If you’re familiar with this song, or if you download based on me, I’d love to hear your feedback. Sorry, I can’t promise to refund your 99 cents, but stay tuned for a continually eclectic array!