Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Blues



First and foremost, that's the title of a great tune, sung to perfection by one of the best American entertainers of the 20th century, Dean Martin.



The phrase aptly describes what many people go through this year, not just due to trying external circumstances involving relationships and money (or, more to the point, the lack of them), but the short days, cold temperatures, grey skies and reduced sunlight.




On the other hand, Christmas Blues also means music I personally like to listen to that has healing properties. For example, these guys:





Now that's some happy blues.

But seriously folks, if you have any combination of:

  • friends, family members and/or a partner you can stand who are still living
  • food on the table
  • a roof over your head which is not in imminent danger of foreclosure or eviction
  • reasonably good health
Then thank your lucky stars and thank 'em again, that is the freakin' grand slam, pinch yourself to make sure the good fortune is real - that equals one fabulous Christmastime.

So (imagine the voice of Clark Gable here), dammit, give them all a hug, tell them you love them NOW, while they're still here!


And, to those intrepid individuals who take action to make things better, get off their derrieres and do something about the suffering in the world, not just today but the other 364 days a year, we tip our hats to you; you're the best.

Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Supernatural Peter Green

While today would have been the 70th birthday of the inventive, very prolific composer-bandleader-arranger-guitarist Frank Zappa - and that merits a trip over to Wolfgang's Vault for some Mothers Of Invention shows - it's apparent that on these shortest days of the year, my mind frequently gravitates to that guitar geek nirvana, the blues.

Last week the amazing Howlin' Wolf and a guy he inspired, the late, great Don Van Vliet, A.K.A. Captain Beefheart were deeply rooted in moi's consciousness. This week: the London-born master of blues and rock guitar, Peter Green.



First off, if you don't know who Peter Green is, drop everything you are doing, turn off your television, cell phone or PDA, get the hell off Facebook (unless you're on FB's Peter Green Tribute page) and listen to this guy play.

Check out these soulful pieces from Peter's stretches with John Mayall's Blues Breakers and Fleetwood Mac (Note: blog readers who do not, in any way, shape or form, enjoy the essential sound of non-metal/punk style electric guitar or the blues are excused).







Peter could also write gorgeous introspective ballads. This one, "Man Of The World", is particularly beautiful and, sadly, more than hints at the serious personal problems that would meet the gifted guitarist just around the corner:



The lush, ambient instrumental "Albatross", co-written by Green and Danny Kirwan, was a big hit in England for Fleetwood Mac.





Unfortunately, the 1967-1971 Fleetwood Mac, arguably up there with The Who as the greatest of British rock bands, would be stalked by tragedy (mostly caused by extended over-use of LSD-25); fortunately, they recorded prolifically enough to leave many hours of remarkable music behind, especially on the Live At The Boston Tea Party recordings and the April 9, 1970 BBC performance on CD 2 of the Show Biz Blues set.


Alas, the story for the incendiary, passionate, hard rocking version of Fleetwood Mac ended abruptly and not at all well. Slide guitarist, Elmore James aficionado, cutup and specialist in Elvis-Buddy Holly-Eddie Cochran style rockabilly Jeremy Spencer went AWOL to join the Children Of God cult, while Green and co-lead guitarist Danny Kirwan, after dropping copious quantities of acid in Munich, subsequently suffered decades of severe health problems.



Green and Spencer have resurfaced in recent years, still playing the blues after the heavy dues. After making his last recording at the age of 28, Danny Kirwan dropped as far out of sight as Syd Barrett did (and, unfortunately, for the same reasons); by all accounts, Mr. Kirwan is still living, but has been in and out of mental institutions in London. If Danny plays the guitar or writes songs, it's strictly for himself - and that, dear blog readers, is one incalculable loss to the world of music.

Meanwhile, the founders and rhythm section mates who the group was named after, bassist John McVie and percussionist Mick Fleetwood, would be the only original Fleetwood Mac members still in the band after its transformation from British blues-rock-psychedelia juggernaut to hit-making commercial pop powerhouse.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Born 100 Years Ago Today


The ever-fabulous Lillian Roth (1910-1980), beaming that inimitable "I'm here - let's put on a show" smile

Born on December 13, 1910 (besides actor Van Heflin
): actress-songstress-comedienne Lillian Roth, sprightly musical star of stage, screen and television.

Although eternal flapper femme fatales
Clara Bow and Louise Brooks arguably equal her for exuding that certain sultriness that draws fellas ga-ga - and into movie theatres in droves - nobody (other than Marilyn Monroe) could put a song over with quite the mixture of vivacity, panache and genuine sexiness of Miss Lillian Roth in her 1930's heydey. Here's a clip from one of her many appearances in the classic Fleischer Studio Screen Songs (A.K.A. "follow the bouncing ball") cartoons:




She also sings in one of the rare examples of a musical interlude in a Marx Brothers movie that doesn't prompt one to instantaneously hit the fast forward button on the DVD player or go to the frig and grab a cold one.



Lillian starred in musical shorts for Paramount, Vitaphone/Warner Brothers, Educational and Universal. I posted the wonderful 1934 Vitaphone opus
Story Conference - which only received a minimal release on the 1993 Forbidden Hollywood Collection laserdisc - here last August 15. While pleased that the following spunky 1930 short, Meet The Boyfriend, is both up on YouTube and available on the Hollywood Rhythm, Volume 2 DVD, I would like to find more of these mini-musicals, including a memorable Paramount one-reeler in which she stars as a lonely cigarette girl working in a cheesy nightclub.




Her other claim to fame was as one of the first celluloid entertainment celebrities to parlay her memoirs - one seriously painful life story - into a best-selling book. MGM's movie adaptation of her autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow, would be a hit biopic, for which Susan Hayward would be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.

I'll Cry Tomorrow
had to be among the first of the pre-rock music era "warts, alcoholism, sex, trashed hotel rooms, ruined marriages and all" tomes; Errol Flynn's aptly titled My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Louise Brooks' Lulu In Hollywood were not published until several years later. For the full, sordid effect, read the book first, then watch the sanitized MGM movie version - that is, if angst-ridden celebrity confessionals are your cup of tea.

Personally, I don't care for the "full, sordid effect". Can't say I want to know just how terribly this likable, talented performer suffered, even with the awareness that she made a successful show biz comeback in later life. Such sordid tales of offstage misery bring to mind a Van Dyke Parks lyric from the Orange Crate Art album (a "good 'un" from 1995, featuring maestro Brian Wilson on lead vocals and lush background chorus overdubs): "Movies is magic. Real life is tragic."


I'd rather just watch the irrepressible, indefatigable Lillian Roth light up the silver screen.



Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This Saturday: The Return Of The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival



By cracky, it warms the cockles of this blogger’s heart, if not necessarily his gonads, to announce that the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival returns to Foothill College for our customary "second Saturday in December" blowout this very weekend!



Robert Emmett of KFJC-FM’s Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show (the closest thing to an audio version of our presentations) hosts yet another four hours of jaw-dropping forgotten footage that takes a sneaky peek at just what's underneath those pesky ingrown toenails on the grimy foot of popular culture.



Yes, that means yet another dumbfounding delirious kaleidoscopic blend of indescribably weird cartoons and musical shorts, B-movie trailers, vintage commercials, monster movie clips, bloopers, educational films gone wrong - and other assorted flotsam and jetsam from our cinematic past.




The
Psychotronix Film Festival remains one of the last vestiges of big screen movie fun on a budget. A $5 donation benefits KFJC 89.7 FM and $2 feeds the hungry parking meters on the Foothill College campus.

Since
your house is in foreclosure, you have very likely been downsized without severance pay and you've cashed out your 401K, a full evening of eye-staggering entertainment for less than ten bucks sounds. . . well, it could be worse, a lot worse!



On the other hand, if you among those still employed, I suggest enjoying a late lunch/early dinner at
Chef Chu's and then heading on up the hill to . . .




The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival
Saturday December 11, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
Room 5015, Foothill College 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA
(El Monte Road exit off of Highway 280)



These shows frequently sell out, so show up early. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Dave Brubeck's 90th Birthday, Part 2

Continuing to celebrate Dave Brubeck's birthday, first with some clips:





As fate would have it, my favorite cable channel by a gazillion miles, Turner Classic Movies, will be celebrating Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday with a tribute, Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, produced by Clint Eastwood and directed by Bruce Ricker.

While my educated guess is that those reading this blog know this, Dave's sons, as the Concord On A Summer Night, Two Generations Of Brubeck and The Brubeck Brothers Quartet recordings attest, are truly stellar musicians in their own right.

Matt Brubeck played the living daylights out of the cello as a member of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and numerous other ensembles. In the mid and latter 1990's, Matt performed with a favorite S.F. Bay Area band of mine, the wonderful Oranj Mancinis, featuring saxophonist Ralph Carney, guitarist Joe Gore, keyboardist Rob Burger and either Scott Amendola or Pat Campbell on drums.



Here are pianist Darius, bassist-trombonist Chris and percussionist Dan performing in, you guessed it, The Brubeck Brothers Quartet.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dave Brubeck

The original, prolific and highly creative pianist-composer-bandleader Dave Brubeck was born on December 6, 1920 in Concord, CA. In his case, 90 years young is accurate; Mr. Brubeck is still playing superb music at an age when most people are long deceased or suffering from severely impaired mental and physical functioning.

Here's a clip from a 1983 interview with Dave:



The secret of his success and longevity? Beats me, but I can imagine Mr. Brubeck steered clear of what comedian Sam Kinison wryly and accurately termed "life-killers"; the obvious ones involve substance abuse, while the less obvious would be consumption of greasy "road food" and a sedentary lifestyle. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2009 and got to hear the following all-star ensemble (BIll Charlap, Christian McBride, Jon Faddis, Bill Stewart, Miguel Zenon) play his compositions.



So, the directive for musicians is to play your favorite Brubeck composition - I'm personally a sucker for "In Your Own Sweet Way" - sometime before the stroke of midnight on December 6, although it's a good idea anytime.

Brubeck aficionados can pick an album from his prolific catalog; I've cued up the February 21, 1963 performance of The Dave Brubeck Quartet At Carnegie Hall, featuring the amazing group that recorded Time Out and Time Further Out: Paul Desmond (alto saxophone), Gene Wright (bass) and Joe Morello (drums).



I could think of many more: Jazz At Oberlin, the 1972 We'll Be Together Again For The First Time concert with Gerry Mulligan, All The Things We Are (featuring Anthony Braxton, Lee Konitz and Roy Haynes), the 1982 Concord concert . . . and many Brubeck albums I've yet to hear. The list goes on and on!

Happy 90th, Dave - and thanks!


Friday, December 03, 2010

Today's Fun Fact

Eighty years ago today, on December 3, 1930, at a screening of the new, provocative feature film by surrealists Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, L' Age D'Or (A.K.A. The Golden Age), members of the pro-fascist organization The League Of Patriots went on the offensive, attacking members of the audience and hurling ink at the screen. As if merely breaking up the screening and beating up attendees were insufficient, the brownshirts also destroyed art works on display in the lobby by Dalí, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy and others.



The first question that comes to mind would be just what Dalí and Buñuel's dadaist epic, did to make the bluenoses in 1930 go berserk, at least two years before goose-stepping fascist groups truly became the rage throughout Western Europe.



Well, for starters, there's the ol' subject (referred to by one of this blogger's favorite movie director-writers, Preston Sturges, as "Topic A") of sex. The kind of kinky seen in L' Age D'Or and strongly implied in Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel and G.W. Pabst's films, never quite hit the silver screen on Main Street U.S.A., but unabashed sexiness reigned in commercial movie theatres via the popular pre-code romps starring Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer diva Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow and other early 1930's favorites.


L'Age D'Or, yes indeedy do, was the first of many Buñuel "love letters" to the Roman Catholic Church, calculated to offend, thumbing its cinematic nose at convention every step of the way; it was less overtly violent than its predecessor, Dalí and Buñuel's short surrealist film Un Chien Andalou (The Andalusion Dog), but demonstrated quite a bit more interest in fetishes and obsessive sexual urges. In both films, all societal, moral and religious taboos were fair game. Of course, the snotty, Pavlovian response from present-day movie buffs, brandishing Criterion Collection and Kino International DVDs is. . . WTF do you expect from a Luis Buñuel flick - freakin' Mary Pollyanna Poppins Of Green Gables On The Prairie?




The following excerpt from L' Age D'Or is, without a doubt, beloved by sculptors and shoe salesmen alike.




L' Age D'Or was officially banned a week later. Save for one unpublicized screening at New York City's Museum Of Modern Art in 1933, it did not have its official U.S. premiere until November 1, 1979 at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco. Buñuel would, with the exception of the 1932 documentary Land Without Bread, not make another film until Los Olvidados in 1950.



Now one can see Dalí and Buñuel's anarchic opus, complete with further background info, in its entirety on YouTube. In evidence throughout the dadaist, finger and toe-sucking extravaganza: pungent irony, revulsion for upper-crust decadence, and the creative, striking uses of the camera, framing and editing that would be notable throughout Buñuel's filmmaking career.

Keep in mind just who was offended by L'Age D'Or, modern art in general, and just about anything threatening the social order (except - inevitably - wars, always regarded as not just A-OK but peachy by zealots, censors, hypocrites, would-be moralists, corrupt politicians and especially weapons profiteers).




Want something offensive? Hmmmmm - let's see. How about the craven cowardice of those who protected priests who committed molestations? How about the treatment of women in Moslem nations? How about suicide bombers and jihadists of all denominations? Now that's offensive!

And for the rest of this year, I promise to return to levity on this blog. Please forgive me, readers!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Psychotronic Paul's Post-Turkey Day Activity

Since I consider shopping about as fun as a colonoscopy sans anesthesia, my immediate post-turkey day activity invariably devolves into passive, slack-jawed television viewing - even if it is watching Richard Pryor clips from Live At The Sunset Strip and Live In Concert on YouTube.

Here's a meditation on that "watching TV" concept from Cinema Insomnia, concept by horror host Mr. Lobo; music, design and vintage film clips by Psychotronic Scott Moon; lead vocals by the king of commercial jingles (as well as 1960's bubblegum pop: The Archies, The Cuff Links, etc.), Ron Dante; inspiration by Creature Features,
The Banana Splits, misunderstood movies and the cheesy re-use of animated chase scenes in Scooby Doo - Where Are You!.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My New Favorite Song

This has become my favorite song from post-Production Code Of 1934 musicals - take it, Yacht Club Boys!

And, dear readers, I ask that, for the sake of historical integrity, make a point of shouting WOO-WOO whenever the phrase is sung here!



Also duly noted in this clip from Pigskin Parade, a 1936 Fox musical in which 14 year old songstress Frances Gumm, A.K.A. Judy Garland, made her feature film debut: Jack "The Tin Man" Haley, brassy (and in the right roles hilarious) comedienne Patsy Kelly, Betty Grable as the ingenue and silent-era Our Gang stalwart Johnny Downs as the big man on campus.

While Garland, admittedly, is a legend, how do I know about The Yacht Club Boys? When I worked for a classic film distributor back in the 1980's, I screened two very entertaining early talkie era Paramount one-reelers, On The High Cs and Deep "C" Melodies, which alternated the boys' novelty tunes with equally witty, double-entendre filled numbers sung by Broadway star Frances Williams (my favorite was "Let's Don't And Say We Did"). I wondered why these films didn't make the cut for Kino Video's Hollywood Rhythm release and would love to see them turn up on DVD sometime.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Burt Bacharach Day

Burt Bacharach and Hal David, interviewed on May 5, 2010 for the Fresh Air show.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Psychotronic Paul's Quote Of The Day

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

- Bertrand Russell

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Classic Movie Events: Vern N' Clubfoot


Vernon Dent (1895-1963), from Good Morning, Eve!

Only momentarily satiated with trailers from misunderstood movies, today this blog plugs classic movie events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While too late to mention last night's screening of From Here To Eternity at the fabulous Paramount Theatre, I would be remiss to not say anything about this weekend's classic film events : Vern and the return of Clubfoot Orchestra.

Vern refers to the hard-working and prolific character actor Vernon Dent, who gets a long overdue spotlight in
tonight's 7:30p.m. show at the Edison Theatre in the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.



Author Bill Cassara will be on hand to sign copies of his new biography of the talented and underrated Mr. Dent. As Bill's Edgar Kennedy bio was an entertaining read, I look forward to his latest tome.

While Vernon Dent is best known as the "sultan of scorn" and ill-fated authority figure from more Three Stooges comedies than a sober mathematician can count (and it seems like Dent and fellow Columbia 2-reeler mainstay Bud Jamison pretty much appeared in every 1920's and 1930's comedy short ever made), his career dated back to the silent era. At
Mack Sennett's Fun Factory and other studios, he filled in wherever, however, whenever anyone needed a foil. a heavy, a comedian, straight man, or character role, in a way that recalls the very different but equally versatile Phil Hartman in more recent memory. His two decade screen partnership and offscreen friendship with Harry Langdon, the most startlingly original and fearless of 1920's movie stars, arguably deserves a book in itself.

Clubfoot refers to the
Clubfoot Orchestra, who have been providing original, non-traditional accompaniment for silent movies for more than two decades. I attended the ensemble's 1993 Memorial Day Weekend marathon at the Castro Theatre and was so impressed by the unorthodox blend of 1920's images with genre-busting modern sounds (drawing upon klezmer, classical, swing, reggae, rock, Frank Zappa, blues, ultra-lounge, bebop, show tunes, you name it) that I subsequently hired Clubfoot stalwart Beth Custer to team up with multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney for several extravaganzas of silent animation and surrealist mayhem.

Clubfoot Orchestra returns to the Castro to perform with Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr and hallucinatory German Expressionist classics Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu tomorrow,
November 14.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yet More Trailers From Bad - I Mean Misunderstood - Films

To brazenly and shamelessly purloin a phrase from Mr. Lobo of Cinema Insomnia, "they're not bad films - just misunderstood."









Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson: The Amazing Criswell

Yes, not all that fresh from Criswell's star turn in Plan 9 From Outer Space, A.K.A. The Magnificent Ambersons of B-movie auteur Edward D. Wood, Junior: a film that manages to be entertaining, incoherent and a textbook case of critic Andrew Sarris' auteur theory.



The amazing one appeared on one of this blogger's all-time favorite television programs, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (note Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog thanks, grovels and genuflects before whoever posted this clip, since television history - thanks to the fact that stations, always looking at that business bottom line, taped over damn near everything to save money - was neither preserved for posterity or posterior).



Alas, it could be argued that Criswell's fortunes did not exactly skyrocket after a stint hobnobbing with Johnny on The Tonight Show. Here is the amazing one's next gig: the introduction to the mind-numbingly inept entry in the "nudie horror" genre Orgy Of The Dead (1965 - screenplay by Ed Wood).



We can only hope that some conscientious film archivist will find, buried inside the same deep, dark cool cave that contains complete, pristine 35mm nitrate prints of Tod Browning's London After Midnight, F.W. Murnau's 4 Devils and Emile Cohl's "The Newlyweds" cartoons, a stack of ultra-rare kinescopes featuring Sid Caesar, Steve Allen and, of course, Ernie Kovacs.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Trailers From Ed Wood Movies

As your correspondent is dealing with jet lag and a full week of fighting a losing battle with "gravel pit" throat - persistent cough - fatigue - general bleccchness (as well as the happier problem of prolonged astonishment over the 2010 Giants' World Series victory), he is yet again way, way too damn lazy to write much of anything.

That said, here are theatrical trailers plugging the entertainingly execrable "cinema on a shoestring"- invariably sans the possession of an actual shoestring - of Edward D. Wood, Jr.







Can you "top" those trailers? Er. . .uh. . . in a strong effort to at least equal them in sheer WTF value, here's Bela Lugosi, waxing poetic in Wood's Citizen Kane, the 1953 opus Glen Or Glenda, A.K.A. I Changed My Sex.



The barrage of bizarreness continues with the worst starring performance by a guy in drag - including The Milton Berle Show - from Glen Or Glenda, sometimes known as Look Back In Angora.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Congratulations 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants

The 56 year wait at long last is OVER - congratulations to the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants!




Culminating a wonderful and improbable season, the San Francisco Giants clinched the championship by winning Game 5 against the mighty Texas Rangers (led by big bopper Josh Hamilton and pitching stalwart Cliff Lee - and managed by Ron Washington, well known in the Northern California as the Oakland A's third base coach/baseball guru for more than a decade) by a score of 3-1. 2010 World Series Most Valuable Player Edgar Renteria, previously one serious tormentor of the Giants as a member of the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins and 2004 National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals, smacked a three-run homer to seal the deal.



The afterglow is sweet for long-suffering Bay Area fans, as three San Francisco Giants World Series appearances ended in heartbreak. They lost in 1962 to the New York Yankees (and specifically a superb, acrobatic play by second baseman Bobby Richardson to spear a screaming line drive by Hall Of Famer Willie McCovey), got swept a pitching-rich and powerful juggernaut of an Oakland A's team in the 1989 "Bay Bridge" series (quite literally delayed by the Loma Prieta earthquake) and were beaten in humiliating fashion after a 3-2 World Series lead by a combination of timely hitting by the California Angels and a painful Giants pitching meltdown.

And don't get us "orange and black" fans started on the years when the Giants enjoyed superb regular seasons only to either get eliminated during the regular season's final weekend (1982, 1993, 2001, 2004) or lose in the Round One of the playoffs (1971, 1987, 2003). Arguably the mightiest of all the Giants teams, the 1993 squad (103 wins, 59 losses), which featured a lineup led by Barry Bonds, Will Clark and Matt Williams, were edged out on Game 162 by the sole team with a better record in MLB, the 104-58 Atlanta Braves.

Without a doubt, this World Series victory is especially sweet for the many stellar players who have worn the Giants uniform.



To quote the article by John Schlegel regarding today's parade in San Francisco on MLB.COM

"The Giants are getting ready to party like it's 1958.

The parade route taken when the Giants were first welcomed to The City by the Bay will be used once again, this time when the World Series trophy is welcomed to City Hall.

The parade will conclude on the steps of City Hall, where Mayor Gavin Newsom will present the team with the key to the city.

The Giants clinched the first World Series title since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958 with a 3-1 victory over the Rangers on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, with ace Tim Lincecum throwing eight innings and Brian Wilson -- sporting his best "Fear the Beard" facial hair -- sealing the deal in the ninth inning.

No doubt, there will be plenty of beards among the fans on the parade route -- men, women and children. Also, figure on a lot of references on signs to torture, the team's unofficial theme for the year after dozens of close games and agonizing defeats steeled their will to win into the postseason.

They'll be there by the thousands to honor the Freak and the rest of the pitching staff that took the trophy one zero at a time, to cheer Aubrey Huff and his red rally thong, to bask once more in the postseason heroics of World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe and Cody Ross.

Figure on an orange river flowing through the streets of San Francisco.

The last time San Francisco hosted a sports parade of this magnitude was in 1995, when the city celebrated the fifth Super Bowl title won by the 49ers of the National Football League.

This time, an unlikely mix of homegrown talent, outcasts and misfits will be honored along a parade route in downtown San Francisco, carrying a very special item the city has waited since 1958 to bring home:

The World Series trophy."



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Best Comedy Sketch Ever

"This Is Your Story", from Your Show Of Shows, featuring Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris as "Uncle Goopy" (note: Mel Brooks cameo at 0:53).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trailers From Mel Brooks Movies

I'm way too damn lazy to write at the moment, so enjoy these theatrical trailers:



















History Of The World, Pat 1

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Burt Bacharach Day

Burt performs one of his greatest songs, A House Is Not A Home, with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Saturday: Lobotronic Film Show And Halloween Costume Contest



As Mad Magazine's William F. Gaines used to say, "the usual gang of idiots" who produce the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival will proudly present our first extravaganza at San Leandro's historic Bal Theatre this Saturday.

As fate would have it, this ends up being a sadly appropriate choice of venue, since one of the super-fans of what we have been doing for the past two decades, our friend and colleague Irwin Swan, who resided with his late wife Colleen in San Leandro for many years, passed away last August. We miss Irwin and Colleen and dedicate this show to them.

Mr. Lobo of Cinema Insomnia hosts an evening of spooky schtick, peachy prizes, and dastardly duds while film collectors Sci-Fi Bob Ekman, Scott Moon and yours truly spin fun and freaky found films on 16mm: A.K.A. a cross-section of our checkered celluloid past - classic 1950's and 1960's commercials, trailers from bad movies, indescribably weird cartoons, actors in lizard, robot and spaceman suits, campy musical shorts and unintentionally hilarious educational films.

Special Guests include the ridiculously talented filmmaker, voice-over artist and musician (Mystic Knights Of Oingo Boingo) Ernie “Hardware Wars” Fosselius, Karen “Mrs. Grandpa Munster” Lewis and others will be on hand to judge a costume contest at 9:00 p.m.

Take the Insomniac Oath and be there for this mind blowing ALL AGES event for the Halloween Season! $10 ($9 if you come in costume).

The date: Saturday, October 16, 2010
The time: 7:30 p.m.
The place: The Bal Theatre, 14808 East 14th Street, San Leandro, CA 94578

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Happy 70th Birthday, John Lennon!



"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it."

"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it."



"I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong."



"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

"Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground." John Lennon




Alas, what would have been the 70th birthday of John Lennon is not that happy an occasion. His life, prolific musical career and outspoken voice were cut tragically short by a psycho exercising his right to bear arms on December 8, 1980.














John Lennon birthday celebrations are happening in many cities, towns, rotundas and living rooms around the globe today, including a rousing one in Central Park.





This writer goes for many of the songs on the last John Lennon albums. They are beautiful and romantic. His ability to turn a phrase kept evolving in unexpected ways.





John - wish you were still here in the flesh among us! Here's the Plastic Ono Band performing with guest guitarist Frank Zappa.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Congratulations, San Francisco Giants, 2010 National League Western Division Champions by Paul F. Etcheverry

This one's for the sweet swings of Baseball Hall Of Famers Willie "The Say Hey Kid" Mays, Willie "Stretch" McCovey, Orlando "The Baby Bull" Cepeda and early 1980's San Francisco Giant Joe Morgan, as well as the latter day sweet swings of Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Matt Williams, Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks.



For relief ace Stu Miller getting blown off the mound by the ill winds of Candlestick Point. For Steve Bedrosian and Rod Beck staring down the opponent a la Goose Gossage, and Robb Nen hitting triple digits on the radar gun. For left-handed relief aces Mike Jackson, Al Holland and Craig Lefferts.

For brilliant and unorthodox Hall Of Famers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, artistes on the mound. For John Burkett, Jack Sanford, Rick Reuschel and Kirk Reuter, who could roll out of bed and pitch 6-7 quality innings like clockwork. For the devastating sinker of Bill Swift. For Dave Dravecky, who rehabbed from cancer surgery to teach a "how to pitch in the big leagues" master class at Candlestick Park.

For Robby Thompson and Jose Uribe turning those double plays, Bobby Bonds, Brett Butler and Darren Lewis patrolling the far regions of the outfield, Willie Mays and Jack Clark throwing runners out at home plate from the warning track, Kevin Mitchell catching a ball with his bare hand.




For the baseball characters: Bob Brenly, John "The Count" Montefusco, Jeffrey "The Hacman" Leonard, Don "Caveman" Robinson and many more.

Big time congratulations to the 2010 National League Western Division champions! To paraphrase a great comedian, Jackie Gleason. . . How sweet it is!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Addendum To "Thar's Music In Them Thar San Francisco Hills"

The Lee Konitz New Quartet, whose Live At The Village Vanguard CD was released earlier this year, performs in San Francisco tonight. Here's a clip of Lee - now celebrating seven decades in music and counting - co-leading a quintet in 1954 with the late, great tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh.




I neglected to mention the following events in my last posting:


Coda Live Music Supper Club, 1710 Mission Street, San Francisco

TONIGHT AT 8:00 P.M.



Classical Revolution, featuring People Revolution Quartet, Adam Theis' Banned Instruments (performing new compositions for string quartet) and Rupa Marya.

TOMORROW NIGHT AT 7:00 P.M.
Bay Area Composers Big Band featuring Erik Jekabson (trumpet) and Jeanne Geiger (trombone)


TONIGHT AND TOMORROW NIGHT
Yoshi's Jack London Square
Saxophonist Dave Liebman, who, among other things, is very familiar to jazz fans for his contributions to several particularly mighty Miles Davis and Elvin Jones bands (including the one in the following clip).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thar's Jazz Music In Them Thar San Francisco Hills



As this blogger mulls over the passing and drama-filled showbiz story of Eddie Fisher - 1950’s pop heartthrob/TV star, father of Carrie Fisher, survivor of very public love triangle scandals, party boy and pre-Richard Burton hubby of Liz Taylor - this blog must call attention the extraordinary lineup of local jazz performances here in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend and next month.

Although the Ken Burns Jazz documentary erroneously claimed that the music called jazz dropped off the map in the 1970’s (since jazz players were largely not recording on U.S. labels and not performing beyond a few American metropolitan areas. . . although finding semi-plentiful gigs in Europe and Japan, as well as at festivals), the San Francisco Bay Area was definitely not a parched, barren desert when it came to cool music in those days: extraordinary performances and legendary musicians were holding forth in everything from tiny clubs to symphony halls frequently back in the 1970's and 1980's.



Had the youthful version of moi had the slightest inkling that the days of "wow - Charlie Mingus is at Keystone Korner, Oscar Peterson Trio's playing the El Matador, Dizzy Gillespie's at Great American Music Hall, Ornette Coleman's at Wolfgang's and Frank Zappa's at Stanford. . . which do I choose - can't clone myself and go to ALL of them?" would end amazingly soon, I would have attended even more of these amazing nights of music and be even more stone broke in 2010!



We do have the San Francisco Jazz Festival and splendid local composers-bandleaders in residence, for which (and whom) music lovers are thankful.

Among said S.F. Bay Area luminaries: the Ray Charles-inspired Rayband Orchestra will be at Coda (frequent venue of the first-rate local players from the Jazz Mafia) tonight at 10:00 p.m with songwriter-songstress-arranger and belter supreme Karina Denike sitting in as a Raelette.





Standout musicians from the Rayband Orchestra (including Karina) are also in arranger Mike Irwin Johnson's superb hard-swinging octet 8 Legged Monster, performing this Saturday at Club Deluxe on 1509-11 Haight (near the historic corner of Haight and Ashbury).

The following mp3 is the band's most recent release and available on Amazon.



Yoshi's and Intersection For The Arts are hosting quite a few evenings of good jazz these days. Yoshi’s in Jack London Square will be presenting world-class keyboardist Geri Allen and an all-star band (Don Byron, Oliver Lake, Dwayne Dolphin, Jeff "Tain" Watts) in a Tribute To Eric Dolphy this weekend, then shall follow that up with an appearance at San Francisco Yoshi's by ageless alto saxophonist Lee Konitz on Tuesday night, with Anthony Brown's Asian American Orchestra on Wednesday and a group co-led by John Popper, Rob Wassermann, DJ Logic and the Jazz Mafia All-Stars next Thursday. The Intersection's Jazz At The DeYoung series at the Koret Auditorium spotlights local composers (bassist Lisa Mezzacappa's Bait And Switch band, Beth Custer And Clarinet Thing and the aforementioned percussionist-arranger Anthony Brown) throughout the month of October.

And, speaking of that cloning business, I personally am trying to figure out how to clone myself while imbibing deeply from the "Fountain Of Youth", thus enabling attendance of both the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's screening of Charlie Chaplin rarities this evening and the Ray Charles Tribute tonight - and that, dear readers, is among the few happy problems in life.