Friday, February 27, 2009


Rock journalist Dave Thompson has a new tome out, entitled "I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto". Being that the last couple of music books I've read were "Our Band Could Be Your Life", "Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones", and the AC/DC bio, "Maximum Rock n Roll", were about newer material, I felt I wanted to take a look back at the music I grew up listening to through someone else's eyes. This book provided that in spades.

Thompson insists (along with many others) that in the pop music world nothing is new anymore. Everything is regurgitated something else. Elvis, Bill Haley, and Chuck Berry created rock, the Beatles, Stones, and Kinks era furthered it, and it all died in the late 70's with the onset of the power ballad and synthesizers.

Mind you, I agree with a lot of what he says. Not all of it however. I think the punk explosion of the late 70's and even very early 80's was a very valid turning point in rock history, where he seems to pooh-pooh even that revoloution as warmed over idealism that the Who had brought forth. That's an oversimplification.

However it is hard to disregard a lot of his material. I agree with him largely on the CURRENT state of rock and roll. Most of what I hear these days is musicianship minus the soul. Thompson's opinion is that rock died in 1976, while I feel it stumbled along, ill but thriving, for another 15 years or so, until it's toll was rung by the onset of the ridiculous boy band monstrosities, the droning machine lull of today's Coldplay, Maroon 5, and the Killers, and finally the reheated pop-punk plodding brought around in the wake of Green Day's arrival. I can't tell it all apart.

Thompson is a good writer, though. An English expatriate, he knows the UK rock history as well as ours, and displays that knowledge expertly. He's obviously forgotten more rock n roll than I'll ever know, and it's hard to argue a battle with someone who comes so heavily armed, as he knows his stuff. He's also hilarious, his wit is acerbic, and he does a nice job of mocking himself as much as he does the modern artists who are clogging up todays airwaves.

The book is a fast, entertaining read, and if you're my age, it'll make you remember. My brother graced me with the gift of The Who, Pink Floyd, and Joe Walsh, my sisters brought me to the doorstep of Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, and Journey. Conversely I've introduced those artists to my son. I've realized my kid enjoys classic rock as much as I do, (he digs on Blue Oyster Cult) more so than he does modern rock, (even stuff I considered "modern" when I wasn't much older than he) so I have to think there is validity to what Thompson says. By and large, older music is better.

Isn't it?

Maybe I'm just old.


In 1993, should you add together Lance Henriksen, Tony Todd, the guy who played a horse wrangler on my mom's soap opera, and yes, JAMES EARL JONES, you got....


Die with a little dignity!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


As a kid, if I saw this glorious 5 second ident it indicated that, even if fleetingly, especially during the holidays, there would be a brief respite from the Barnaby Jones, Waltonsesque mishmash a child like myself was constantly being subjected to. Yes, it even meant cartoons in the prime time.

Yes, it was a good thing. It still makes me smile

Sunday, February 22, 2009


During Burt Reynolds late 70's and early 80's surge, a gritty crime drama he had filmed in the earlier portion of the 70's called "Dan August", had been pushed back into the public eye. In the early 80's, local tv stations would package up some of the old episodes into "mini-movies" and air them in prime time "theme weeks".

They weren't half bad as I remember them, as Reynolds, playing a police detective in a fictional California town, threw his macho-ness around, busted bad guys, and spouted off lines like "Take him upstairs and book him." I don't remember a lot of details outside of "PM Magazine"'s Gary Collins guesting on an episode and the killer theme song.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Here are two of myself and my son's faves: Office Space as a suspense film

Uncle Buck as a horror flick:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


He was one of rock and roll's trailblazers, and most influential axe-wielders.

If you listen to music or watch movies at all, you've heard his "Jack the Ripper" or "Rumble" multiple times.

Few people know his name.

Link Wray.

Here's a couple of good places to start:, which is a great piece written by the late Cub Koda of Brownsville Station fame, and Steve Leggett.

A killer compilation cd is "Rumble: the Best of Link Wray" on Rhino.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I've been a movie viewer for nigh on 31 of my 37 years, and have tried to immerse myself in as many types of films that I've found myself able. But I'm always drawn back to the allure of genre movies. On that note, I'm going to attempt to do a series on my favorite individualized aspects of genre film. I'm starting with the fight scenes.

5. Mickey O'Neil, the "pikey" (Brad Pitt) vs. "Good Night" Anderson in Guy Ritchie's sophomore effort, "Snatch". The kinetic editing, grainy look, solid choreography, and Ritchie's Scorcese-esque use of sound design put this one over the top into greatness.

4. Roddy Pipper vs. Keith David in John Carpenter's "They Live". Carpenter was never known for action set pieces. He was more of an atmosphere and tension guy, but the sheer length and physicality he gets out of the brawl between these two cult stalwarts, Piper of WWF/WCW wrestling fame, and David, with the voice that installs fear (and size to boot) is definitely top notch.

3. Tom Laughlin vs. the rich tyrant's hooligans in the town square in "Billy Jack" circa 1971. Granted, the bulk of the rest of the film was a left wing love-fest with shoddy acting (with the exception of Dolores Taylor) and even worse dialogue, the movie DID mean well. But when Billy dispatches of the henchmen, it is with the martial arts choreography of high order, slow-motion, quick cut editing and sound, and skillful execution by Laughlin. It predates the best of John Woo by at least 10 years and should be noticed as such. Had to be an influence.

Here's a taste....

2. Jean Claude Van Damme vs. a bunch of homeless perverted robbers attempting to victimize Yancy Butler early on in the under-rated "Hard Target". All of the qualities of the above "Billy Jack" entry are here, with improved film speed editing and camera skill by the king, John Woo. Say what you will about the level of Van Damme's "true" martial arts skills, he at least made it look damn good.

1. Joseph Gordon Levitt's decking of the football jock in "Brick". Sometimes a little is a lot. After a clumsy beginning to the brawl, a cross from hell puts Levitt's nemesis down for the count, and somewhat unexpectedly. A nice physical moment in a very quirky, cerebral, and off-beat film. Good Stuff.

Honorable mention must go to the Subway station restroom brawl between the Warriors and a bunch of goons led by a roller-skate riding freakjob in Walter Hill's 1979 masterpiece, "The Warriors" Snow, my personal favorite Warrior kicks major booty in this scene, was played by Brian Tyler, whose Tae Kwon Do skills made his brawling scenes more believeable. He became a state trooper, and retired in 2004.

Monday, February 9, 2009

You don't know what's good.

My mom used to say this ridiculous statement to me all the time, leaving me scratching my head quizzically.

Woman, I am not responsible for what my taste buds respond to, nor the whiplash effect of my gag reflex upon consuming cauliflower. Sorry.

General Mills on the other hand, You don't know what's good, otherwise you never would have taken my beloved Crazy Cow Strawberry cereal off the market.


Back in the day, television really worked hard on interesting recurring characters. I'm not talking about Bruce Campbell's Sam on "Burn Notice" or even Neil Flynn's "Janitor" from "Scrubs". I'm talking about those oddballs who were made even odder by the fact that they only popped up every 4 or 5 episodes or so.

Charles Fleischer, who is probably best known as the voice of Roger Rabbit, played Carvelli on "Welcome Back, Kotter", and when he popped up on an episode, it was almost alway assured to be one of my favorites. Carvelli, resplendent in his long trenchcoat, and accompanied by his trusty sidekick, Murray, was usually seen loitering about the halls of McKinley high school, often with something to sell. Whether it be a difficult to obtain object, or some seedy information, Carvelli could be counted upon to furnish it.

Another purveyor of information was colonel Samuel Flagg of MASH. He usually popped up on an episode of the Korean war comedy typically in search of an alleged commie among the ranks of US Army personnel. He made people close their eyes before he left so they couldn't follow, and often called himself "the wind". If anyone was intimidated by this CIA operative, it typically was only Frank Burns, afraid of his own shadow and dumb enough to talk to it. Flagg was a treasure.

Celebrity Jibber Jabber.

In the wake of Sean Penn controversies, Gillian Anderson hubbub, and the days gone by Chris Jericho affair up in Canada, I've decided to write an open letter to the media monsters, stalkers, and obnoxiously obsessed fans on the matter of both celeb/fan interaction and the papparazzi.

WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, in the parking lot after a match, hit a fan and it's causing an uproar. But in that ridiculously grainy footage some Cecil B. DeMented got with his handheld, can anyone see what was said, much less done, to Jericho as he was getting into his car?

I've heard the age-old argument, there's a price to be paid, and sacrifices to be made for being a celebrity. It's their load to carry for the fortune and fame. I agree. TO AN EXTENT.

Just because they are well known and rich does not give fans the right to stalk them, try to climb into a car with them, and it sure as hell does not give photographers an open invitation to perch in a tree outside their property and get a snapshot of them taking a crap.

Media hubbub isn't helping. We don't need to see footage of Joaquin Phoenix eating a french fry, Paris Hilton mumbling "that's hot" on a red carpet somewhere, and it's damn sure no ones business if Jessica Simpson gains 8 pounds.

Good God, people, do something for yourself. Maybe that thing you do will be accomplished enough for you to get famous yourself. Of course, then you'd probably punch yourself in the face for getting a shot of your own mug in the mirror.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Statements that ARE NOT desireable in movie advertising

It's obvious, especially when combing through the DVD aisles these days that not everything moviewise is up to snuff. Even in the most heinous direct-to-video titles, the producers and promoters manage to dig up some sort of positive feedback for their films. That's why it's possible to pick up even a major studio title and find a "smashing" review from ""

In the honor of this topic, I've compiled a list of 5 "endorsements" or "bragging Points" that should make you avoid a film rather than see, or good Lord willing, purchase it.

1. These days, "produced by Wes Craven" Does he direct anything anymore? "They"? "Wishmaster"?

2. "From the makers of "Porky's"!!!" Bob Clark notwithstanding, as he directed "A Christmas Story" and "Black Christmas", this is not a pedigree to be proud of.

3. Any endorsement from Pete Hammond, as he gives good reviews to everything, much like Jeff Craig from the "sixty second preview" days. Be warned.

4. "Based on a true story". Come on, at a stretch, more often than not, "inspired" would be a better word to use. This was parodied as far back as "Return of the Living Dead", when the words "Based on actual events" appear on the screen before the first reel starts.

5. No endorsements. There was a time when a lack of a critical or fansite pat on the back meant what you were considering was pure claptrap. Not anymore. There's some good horror flicks out there with no press hallelujahs on the artwork at all. "Ginger Snaps: The Beginning" for example, was a solid movie, better than many that have rave reviews pasted all over the DVD case.

So in short, make up your own mind. The trained eye can usually tell just by breezing through the packaging what you're up against. Using critics isn't always a bad thing. A ringing support statement from Roger Ebert is a good thing, he at least has the respect to review a film in the context of genre, which is rare these days, I respect him even if I think he's off base on "Grosse Pointe Blank". Peter Travers is another. But beware of positive kudos from "" In essence, use common sense.