Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Here's Bobby Darin's take on "That's All". He does a very "guy" thing, not interpreting it as a ballad, but as a fast, rhythmic number, in a style I associate more with Tony Bennett. Darin, no fool, was in my view playing to his strength as a singer of mid and up-tempo swingers.
But my favorite rendition of "That's All" (even better than the beautiful rendition on Sinatra And Strings) is this stellar performance by Edie Adams in "Lucy Meets The Mustache", the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. "That's All" also described the relationship between Lucy and Desi, who filed for divorce the next day.
So sit back and listen to this great song. Edie hits it out of the park.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The ever-sultry Edie sings praises for the Panatela Extras, and, even though the Muriel Cigars voice-over pitchman talks over most of Stan Getz' tenor sax playing, I'm ready to buy some Panatela Extras right now - disregarding the fact that the commercial aired 43 years ago and I don't smoke.
The only way Muriel Cigars could have been luckier is if Ernie Kovacs had still been living when this commercial aired.
The tendency is to remember Edie Adams, who passed away earlier this year, as Mrs. Kovacs and the conscientious archivist of the comedian's innovative legacy, rather than for her lengthy career as a Tony award winning entertainer.
Too bad there are no Edie Adams Scopitones!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Forget investing in the shaky world economy! Sink what's left of that do-re-me into a DVD box set of Ernie Kovacs shows! A collaboration of The Archive of American Television and Koch Vision, this includes 15 hours of Kovacs programs and is slated for release next year.
I wish it was available right now. Until then, here's a clip of Ernie and Edie (who is very funny in this bit) from the early 1950's.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
"They are Bloody Stepford beautiful."
And, indeed, they are: the fabulous Kessler Sisters, starring in one of my all-time favorite Scopitones, Quando Quando.
If you see another amazing, stylish, campy, sexy high-fashion 1960's time capsule that surpasses this Scopitone, let me know.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
When sung by a guy - or a darker type of female vocalist: think Amy Winehouse today - these lyrics by Hal David take on a sinister quality, and sound more like the obsessive words of a stalker than the emotions of a person "in love" (whatever that means).
Makes me wonder - did Elvis Costello cover "I Say A Little Prayer!" during his tour with Burt?
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Funny, the PGA never latched onto this Scopitone, Tweedle-Dee starring Freddie Bell and Roberta Linn, as a potential promotional film. . .
Monday, December 15, 2008
Of the strikingly odd moments, those showgirls bearing globes (literally, not figuratively or metaphorically) are my favorites.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Here are the rockin' Treniers with Martin & Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour. They knew how to have fun on TV in 1954.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
And yes, Virginia Mayo, there is a tie-in with this blog. The fabulous and hilarious Kitten On The Keys will tickle the ivories as the hostess with the mostest at my Pre-Code Follies movie night on January 30, 2009 at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Edison Theatre. The wonderful Devil-ettes performed between our cornucopia of cheesy Christmas kitsch movies at the Thrill-O-Tronic show at the Cerrito Theatre on November 15.
Friday, November 28, 2008
There is an undeniable kinesthetic urgency and sexual energy - which a fair amountof the time get censored and repressed in his live-action features - that breaks through in Tashlin's cartoons. And, like Bob Clampett, Tashlin is never, ever afraid to be outrageous.
Here are two excellent and innovative examples, from Tash's peak as one of the looniest purveyors of Looney Tunes:
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Great poster by Miles Goodrich. It will be fun to share showtime with Will The Thrill and Monica The Tiki Goddess again.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Don't know just why I love this film, other than the inevitable cute showgirls in cuter costumes, but I do.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Movies in gorgeous 3-strip Technicolor started to make the rounds in 1932-1935. Walt Disney, ever on the cutting edge, got there first with his Silly Symphonies, the series that sparked tremendous growth in the sophistication, technique and artistry of animated cartoons while bringing the wondrous "anything goes" surrealism in Pre-Code animation to a screeching halt. A couple of years later, Vitaphone started a series of 2-reel musical comedy shorts. Three (that I know of) are Service With A Smile and Good Morning Eve starring Leon Errol, and one that sounds fascinating, What No Men, co-starring songstress Wini Shaw with the delightfully bizarre Swedish dialect comic El Brendel.
Enjoy these two excerpts, courtesy of the indispensible Turner Classic Movies, from Service With A Smile. And yes indeed, this features the same Leon Errol from the Ziegfeld Follies, the RKO "Mexican Spitfire" features and literally dozens of two-reelers, including the legendary 1938 short, The Jitters.
While these production numbers aren't on the scale, level or inspiration of Busby Berkeley's grand hallucinations, they're great fun just the same.
My next post will include a Vitaphone 2-reel Technicolor musical comedy in its entirety.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Still way too damn lazy to blog, I'm compelled to link to a superb post-election article by Bob Ray Sanders in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It is a reminder of what the election of Senator Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States means, especially to those old enough to remember or directly experienced the American version of apartheid. Let's never forget those brave individuals who sacrificed their lives, yes, in recent memory, during our lifetimes, for the cause of civil rights.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
New York University professor Mark Crispin Miller, author of Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
To refresh our Short Attention Span Theatre challenged memories, here's one of the disgusting hit ads, pathetic loser #5, this one from the 2004 presidential slamfest. I would call it a "greatest shit" - but it's not that good.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Ben digs into the ballad Old Folks, with the impeccable Teddy Wilson on piano, in a 1970 Copenhagen performance that took place the day after the passing of the incredible Ellington orchestra saxophonist Johnny Hodges. It was no doubt an emotional and sad time for all involved, yet they transformed sadness into music that is moving, heartfelt and beautiful.
Hey, if any jazz fans read this blog, tell me where I can buy a DVD of this!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Since one Coleman Hawkins clip simply isn't enough, here's the swingin' saxophonist's rendition of a great ballad, Indian Summer.
And now I must find that recording with Hawkins, Coltrane and Thelonious Monk playing together. Otherwise known as healing music, baby.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
If a TV pundit says, as David Wright of ABC-Nightline did, "but the real question now is what white voters think", make 'em guzzle a whole goddamn pint of the 100 proof stuff, right then and there!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thanks, flashbackcaruso, for posting this on YouTube!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
This Palin is all right by me: has been for a long time.
The other Palin? The recent incident involving bigots in the Alaska governor's rally audiences yelling "TERRORIST!", "OFF WITH HIS HEAD" and "KILL HIM!" about Senator Obama was an ugly and appalling blast from the past, a most unwelcome throwback to the bad old days of 1965 George Wallace and 1948 Strom Thurmond.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I don't care if this kind of campaign works. It's a fetid, putrid and disgusting stench, as well as an insult to every American.
Here's hoping that what I wrote yesterday, "news flash: the presidential campaign has gotten so negative that sleaze, slime, pond scum, douchebags, fecal matter, miscellaneous rot and the stinking corpse of Lee Atwater are loudly demanding official apologies" will not characterize the next four weeks. I'm not holding my breath, but I'll probably end up holding my nose.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
- If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago you would have $49 left.
- With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left of the original $1,000.
- With AIG, you would have less than $15 left.
- If you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, guzzled all of the suds, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have $214 cash!
Sunday, October 05, 2008
"Beware of geeks bearing formulas", Warren Buffett, October 1, 2008
In the reams of copy written about the financial crisis of 2008, one piece that stands out is Stephen Labaton's article from the New York Times business section about a major change in economic policy, instituted at an SEC meeting on April 28, 2004, that eliminated The Net Capital Rule, thus enabling banks to assume much more debt than they could previously.
Silly me, I had no idea that the Securities And Exchange Commission actually had the power to institute such major de-regulations of investment banks. Well, they did - and how!
Secretary Paulson was then head of Goldman Sachs, one of the investment banks that pushed hard for the change in policy, so many of us would be very interested to hear his comments regarding the events of April 28, 2004.
While hindsight is invariably 20/20, the Securities And Exchange Commission's decision to remove the Net Capital Rule, giving banks the green light to delve farther into highly leveraged investments, ranks among the top 20 "smoking guns" in the panic of '08.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
"You can't ask Congress for $700 billion without more modesty and a better explanation for how it would be used." Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2008
"Every financial company that's now in trouble got there because it took too much risk and acted foolishly. These companies were so busy trying to "make the number" that they pulled any levers they felt like. And, oh, by the way, isn't it interesting how so many financial companies that always meet or "beat the number" are the ones that are not just collapsing but vaporizing." Bill Fleckenstein, Contrarian Chronicles, September 22, 2008
"No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it." Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, September 30, 2008
"If I could borrow 700 billion on the government's terms and buy these assets I'd be doing it myself," Warren Buffett, CNBC Interview, September 24, 2008
"The Treasury plan is a disgrace: a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer. And the plan does nothing to resolve the severe stress in money markets and interbank markets that are now close to a systemic meltdown." Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor, September 24, 2008
"What has occurred is not just an old-fashioned banking crisis but also a banking scandal. Most of the big banks were shot through with short-termism, deceptive practices and self-dealing. We must institute basic changes in corporate governance and in management practice to restore responsibility and honesty for the sake of the economy and for the self-respect of the country." Edmund Phelps, WSJ.com, October 1, 2008
"If Secretary Paulson constructed a package that was centered around buying direct equity stakes in the banks, he could quickly garner large majority support in both houses. Better yet, Congress could just construct its own package centered on buying equity stakes and send it to President Bush." Dean Baker, The Huffington Post, September 29, 2008
"We're addicted to easy money and easy credit and excessive spending and deficits" Rep. Ron Paul, September 19, 2008
"The financial bloodbath will continue, but unless the deal on the table changes significantly, Henry Paulson gets to decide who lives and who dies. The former investment banker from Goldman Sachs would be empowered as treasury secretary to play savior or grim reaper, the liquidator who essentially pulls the plug on some banks and financial firms or the man who rescues them from ruin." William Greider, The Nation, September 29, 2008
"The Democrats could start over, with a bailout plan that is, say, centered on purchases of preferred stock and takeovers of failing firms — basically, a plan clearly focused on recapitalizing the financial sector, with nationalization where necessary." Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 29, 2008
"I could easily be wrong, but I suspect that at the end of the day, you and I will be bailing out the hundred-million-a-year finance titans who messed this up in the first place. . . There are still people, and I know many of them well, who believe that old myth that you can trust the markets to fix everything — that old magical thinking that some thieves will stop other thieves from robbing the sheep like us. That’s the really sad part. Some babies never learn." Ben Stein, New York Times, October 21, 2007
Thursday, September 25, 2008
My cinematic crazy quilt this time is 'Wine, Womanizing And Song', an evening of partying-nightclubbing-carousing-hallucinating and philandering mayhem from 1930s and 40s classic Hollywood cartoons, double entendre-packed comedies and musical “jukebox” Soundies.
Date: Friday, September 26th , 2008 Time: 8:30PM
Venue: Oddball Film, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 RSVP Only to: 415-558-8117 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I will also be with most of the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival crew on Friday, October 3. Cinema Insomnia's Mr. Lobo and The Queen Of Trash will host the Lobo-tronic Film Fest that is the Friday evening entertainment for the SiliCon at San Jose's Doubletree Hotel.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Since that isn't enough for me, here's Bebel, singing "All Around" from her 2004 album.
Is there a cooler, sexier vocalist on the planet? If you know of one, tell me about her!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Enjoy Diana Krall's take on The Look Of Love, Burt n' Hal's sultry pop-bossa. This tune is so sensuous, it would survive a cover by Pee-Wee Herman and Pinky Lee with most of its sexiness intact.
Personally, I hope the ageless Burt teams up with Diana's husband, Elvis Costello, to write her next album.
Friday, September 19, 2008
"I believe that there’s this agenda in mainstream media - and I think it’s fairly easy to back this up - to keep people stupid, docile and apathetic. – Bill Hicks (1961-1994)
The risk-taking, fearless, restless, unpredictable, sometimes devastatingly inspired social satirist Bill Hicks lets 'er rip in this 1989 “Late Night With David Letterman” appearance. While his act was definitely toned down for the appearances on Letterman's show, Bill still managed to get in a few amazing, funny, bizarre and satiric moments.
Unfortunately, Bill Hicks passed away at 32, so it wasn’t possible to have the pleasure of seeing him expand, grow and continue to riff thoughtfully and madly through his 50's and 60’s, as George Carlin did.
I hope Mr. Hicks ultimately found a measure of peace and some respite from the stresses of this earthly ride.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
So, in the infinitely less entertaining interest of becoming an "informed voter", Google or MetaCrawler the following:
- causes+ subprime mortgage crisis
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
- Commodity Futures Modernization Act
And, with the understanding that both megabucks political parties bear responsibility for this, ask which of the two is more the architect of "another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into" (see, I got an old movie reference in).
It's time to set political views and biases aside and just answer the damn questions.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
To quote one of the rare sensible letters to the editor printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Have you noticed how all of the important issues - the crisis in the economy, the war in Iraq, health care and all the rest - have been marginalized? Let's get back to the issues, please."
Issues? If polls and campaign coverage by the ratings-driven TV news media have their slimy fingers on the faint pulse of the country, one would conclude that the issues are of absolutely no interest to a significant swath of the American voting public. It seems that vast throngs across this nation simply don't give a crap about oh. . . things like an out-of-control budget deficit ($407 billion for this fiscal year, and a total national debt exceeding 9 1/2 trillion dollars), the continuing meltdown of the U.S. economy (and its relationship with specific regulatory/oversight policies), the destruction of our strategic alliances and thorough corruption of the political and electoral systems. Only ideology and "personality" matter.
The concept that if a candidate or regime (of either party) gets into office and screws up royally, horribly, unimaginably, an informed public will vote their inept asses out, ideally in a landslide, is gone, sacrificed on the altars of a scandal-and-gotcha obsessed big media, big lies, bigger $$$$$$ and big ass corruption. And if said public is, indeed, completely uninformed about said issues and beholden to rigid ideologies, we are screwed, screwed and screwed.
That's quite enough election year rant for now.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Brian Wilson, in concert, 2007
It's true - I was among the greying but enthusiastic multitudes wearing Hawaiian shirts at last night's Brian Wilson show at Oakland's historic Paramount Theatre, and damn proud of it! I sat in the second row right, jumped up and down, yayed, yelled and whooped loud enough that Brian and his bandmates could definitely hear me.
Yes, it's no accident that I did not become a music critic.
This may have been the best Brian Wilson Band performance, start-to-finish, I've had the pleasure to hear. It was easily the hardest rocking version of a Brian Wilson or Beach Boys band I have heard. There was no filler in the opening set of BB evergreens, performed with a passion and exuberance that breathed vibrant new life into the classic 60's chestnuts. As is his custom, Brian has surrounded himself with talented vocalists, including soprano Taylor Mills, 'CEO of falsetto' Jeffrey Foskett, Scott Bennett and all of the superb L.A. band The Wondermints, who nail those "Four Freshman" harmonies as if they're the proverbial piece o' cake.
My favorite part of the show was the performance of the new album, That Lucky Old Sun (written by Brian, Scott Bennett and Van Dyke Parks) in its entirety.
Part homage to 1950's and 1960's Southern California, part candid autobiography, it's short, sweet and offers that unique blend of happy power pop with poignant, moving interludes. A string section joined the band and, as the cellos and violins do on Pet Sounds and Smile, added yet more gorgeous layers of harmonies to the mix. Here's a short piece about the album, which for me provides a valuable balancing antidote to the snotty cynic within:
Nothing if not brave, Brian directly addresses the personal problems he has survived in sections of That Lucky Old Sun - and relates them to the human experience we all share. Since I'm a (shudder) 'sensitive guy', this aspect of Brian's music gets me, every time. Alas, the struggle and emergence into the light from a long dark night of the soul is rarely a topic for pop songwriting, especially in the current environment that treats an awful lot of music as a consumer product like french fries or Funyuns, to be marketed primarily to those under 18 years of age.
In short, great show! It rocked the house and, in those reflective passages, achieved something virtually no one other than George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young and Duke Ellington can for me - elicited the good tears.
Thanks, Brian and band - hope to see ya on your next swing through these parts.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Since Miles sounded great in his last tour, his untimely passing in 1991 is still something of a shock.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
This Miles ensemble, not long after key saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter's departure to form Weather Report, inhabits that intriguing space between the Bitches Brew, Big Fun and Live-Evil recordings. Yep, this is definitely 'out there', but not yet the gurgling rock-funk-electronics-jazz-India-psychedelic-wah wah-sludge-raging raga cauldron that culminated in the live albums Dark Magus, Agharta and Pangeea. All offer an invaluable antidote to market-researched, focus-grouped corporate pop stylings.
The band features . . . Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett on keyboards; Gary Bartz - saxophones; Dave Holland - bass; Airto Moreira - percussion; Jack DeJohnette - trap drums and percussion.
The Isle Of Wight Festival was a troubled yet epochal event in the history of 20th century rock music; Jimi Hendrix, The Who and The Doors were among the headliners. Hendrix would say sayonara to this earthly form soon after the concert, with Jim Morrison not far behind.
Urban legends claim that Hendrix and Miles jammed informally and were slated to get together in the studio for some further recording in winter 1970-1971. . .
Hey, we can dream, can't we.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
and jokes in every shot.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
And now, in full Hot Buttered Soul/Black Moses glory, nine and a half minutes from an epic rock-soul version of The Look Of Love:
This 9:41 includes an intro chock full of Hayes' signature orchestrations, his inimitable deep sea diver vocals embracing Burt's beguiling bossa melody, a transition to an instrumental break that sounds like the chord changes from Spooky (by 1960's MOR popsters The Classics IV), then a Far East flute motif that just starts as the clip ends. Cool.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The striking lead vocalist is Wini Shaw. She's in several mid-1930's Warners musicals, the 1934 Technicolor comedy short, What, No Men! - and later turns up in Soundies.
I'm dumbfounded by the sheer filmmaking brilliance of it all.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
And besides, we know that while André Breton and Salvador Dali didn't agree on much, both, no doubt, would have given anything to present, as part and parcel of the artistic statement, a camera track through the spread legs of smiling showgirls.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Big thanks to Tré Taylor of Really Weird Stuff.com radio (and numerous other musical/artistic endeavors) for bringing this Scopitone to my attention.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
We thank Aaron Neathery of The Third Banana blog for posting this.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
And, please, get me whatever cologne Leon Errol is using in this clip. Maybe it'll work 74 years later!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
The 13th Annual San Francisco Film Festival, another amazing weekend of classic movies in archival 35mm prints, accompanied by world-class musicians, closed with a hilarious Marion Davies comedy last night.
I'm still collecting my thoughts, such as they are, after this splendid moviegoing experience - and vowing to, next time, remember to save up for a Festival Pass! Again, I extend big time bravos, kudos, etc. to all those involved in producing and presenting the festival.
A few observations:
- Marion Davies, based on her performances in The Patsy (last night's piece-de-resistance) and Show People (the "closer" from the 2007 SFSFF) is, hands down, the most underrated comedienne in the history of motion pictures.
- Harold Lloyd, remembered as the indefatigable go-getter who epitomized the spirit of the 1920's, remains an unparalleled master of comedy construction and strikes me as a tad underrated.
Perhaps Lloyd is underrated because his style and approach differ than his counterparts and friends from "The Big Three", Keaton and Chaplin. Harold's great silent pictures from 1923-1928 remind me more of Doug Fairbanks, even though he undeniably shares a stunt-filled physicality and ability to seamlessly blend comedy and action/adventure elements with Keaton. Fairbanks, at his best, made rousing adventure flicks spiced with humor, while Lloyd produced comedies packed with thrills and swashbuckling action.
The Kid Brother, enhanced last Friday night by the superb score by the Mont Alto Picture Orchestra, represents the apex of his approach to screen comedy. He starts with short comic scenes that introduce the characters, follows them with longer, more intense sequences (all the while advancing the storyline) - and skillfully builds the pacing to the crescendo, a breathless finale. The centrifugal force behind everything is Harold's character, who could be summed up thusly: "you may be brawnier and more powerful than me, but I'm smarter, faster and more resourceful than you - and since I'm also a sweet guy who appreciates women, I'll get the girl!"
You could make a successful comedy film, right now in the 21st century, using the structural principles of Lloyd's silent features.