Monday, December 28, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas To All

I bring you glad tidings of great joy. Here's a bonus song for Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Song of the Week: Santa Claus's Party

Come on, everybody, to Santa Claus's Party. Grab some egg nog and sit close to the fire because, as always, Christmas around here means the Christmas song of the week.

This week's song is one I've only heard on that Music Choice channel you get in your cable package. It's a happy tune called "Santa Claus's Party" by, Les Baxter. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Song of the Week: Shambala

"Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain With the rain in Shambala" - Three Dog Night

Friday, November 13, 2015

MST3k Friday: We've Got Movie Sign!

In the not too distant future somewhere in 2016, the guy named Joel is planning to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000. That is, if he can raise enough money on Kickstarter. Considering it raised $1 million in 24 hours, it has a pretty good shot of making the first goal of $2 million, which means there will be at least 3 new episodes.

If you enjoy the riffing fun of a sarcastic janitor and his robot friends, consider donating to #BringBackMST3K. You know I already did!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Song of the Week: Back in Time

Last Wednesday, October 21, 2105, was "Back to the Future Day". That was the date Marty McFly traveled to the future in Back to the Future II. The sad thing is, that movie now takes place entirely in the past.

This week's song is one of two from Huey Lewis and the News.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Song of the Week: The Mooche

Duke in Blue is a solo piano album of 15 Duke Ellington songs recorded during Duke's centennial year (1999) by Ellis Marsalis.  This week's song is the first off the album:  "The Mooche".

Monday, September 28, 2015

Song of the Week: Castaway

Earlier this year Blues Traveler released a new album called "Blow Up The Moon". I find the album a big appointment overall. True, it's supposed to be more of a collaboration album than a Blues Traveler album, but I don't like most of the collaborations. The first 3 or 4 songs are OK (just OK), but the rest aren't very good.

"Castaway" is probably the best song on the album (the title track isn't too bad, either), but that's not saying much.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Last Five Books I Bought

It's been a while since my last "Last Five Books" post. I typically say the last five books and why, but any regular reader of this blog will know the whys when they see the authors.

The Killing Kind by, Chris Holm. People who have read this blog, know that I've been promoting Holm for a while now. I can't wait to see what he does in a different genre. The only thing holding me back from tearing into this right now is the fact that I'm halfway through Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life.

The Cartel by, Don Winslow. Again, regular readers know I love Don Winslow. This sequel to The Power of the Dog would have been my next read if I had finished Washington before The Killing Kind came out.
The Devil's Game by, Sean Chercover. The sequel to The Trinity Game.
The Sun Also Rises by, Ernest Hemingway. A few years ago I read all of Hemingway's short stories and got to realize why many consider him among the greatest writers of the 20th Century. I haven't gotten around to many of his novels, so when I went to his home in Key West this summer, I picked up one of his novels in the gift shop.
The Man in the High Castle by, Philip K. Dick. I was blown away by the pilot for Amazon's series based on this book, so I had to read the original source material. I found the pacing to be a little off and the tension wasn't as great as the show, but it was an interesting read. I can't wait to see the Amazon series (starting November 20, 2015).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Song of the Week: High Minded

While listening to WBGO's Blues Hour one Friday afternoon, I heard a song from Jarekus Singleton that I thought was great, so I decided to find out more. After self-releasing album in 2011, The Jarekus Singleton Blues Band was signed to a contract with Alligator Records and released the album Refuse to Lose in 2014. A mix of blues, hip hop, and funk, the album launched Singleton as someone to watch on the blues scene. Almost all the songs on the album are great, but my favorites are "Hell", "Sorry", and "High Minded".

"High Minded" was the song I heard on WBGO, so that is going to be our song of the week.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Song of the Week: West Coast Blues

Let's ring out August with some Oscar Peterson. He was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century.

Friday, August 28, 2015

MST3K Friday: Girls of MST3K VII

"I declare this movie suddenly great!"
"Is this really an appropriate place for the soft core porn music?"

Monday, August 24, 2015

Song of the Week: Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart

I had planned to quietly have every song of the week for August be jazz, but then Chris Cornell released a single for his new album Higher Truth. The first single, "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart", is pretty good and if the rest of the album is around this quality, it'll be a lot better than 2009's terrible Scream.

Friday, August 21, 2015

MST3K Friday: Gamera

"Hey Sandy Frank; isn't that when you drop your hot dog at the beach?"

Monday, August 10, 2015

Song of the Week: I Should Care

Every time I hear New Jersey's own Bill Evans, I enjoy him. I should listen to more of his work. Here is Evans playing "I Should Care".

Monday, August 3, 2015

Song of the Week: Grazing in the Grass

Here's a nice, relaxing jazz piece with a tight groove that's perfect for a lazy summer day. Recorded by South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, "Grazing in the Grass" hit number 1 on the Billboard chart in 1968.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Song of the Week: Wicked Rain

Los Lobos has always been an underrated band.  This song, "Wicked Rain" was used at the end of the first season of Amazon's Bosch.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Orson Welles's Last Move by, Jonathan Karp

Absolutely fascinating book about the most famous unfinished movie of all time.

First the negative. The voiceover move into and outro don't work. The psychoanalysis of Welles in the epilogue is forced and feels cheap. There is some repetitive storytelling regarding people getting fired over and over and in the hammering home of Welles's character flaws.

On the positive side, Karp does yeoman's work unraveling the complicated details of who stood how much of the picture to whom and when. He provides a fascinating glimpse into what it was like to work with Welles and how much of a genius Welles was at editing and assembling movies.

It's well worth the read for any fan of Welles and of the movies. I hope the current effort to fund the movie's completion succeeds and we finally get to see this movie I've been waiting to see for as long as I can remember

Monday, July 20, 2015

Song of the Week: Smiling Faces Sometimes

This week we're bringing the funk. "Smiling Faces Sometimes" was originally recorded by The Temptations in 1971, but was re-recorded in the same year by The Undisputed Truth. The second version was the more popular one, and the one that I know.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Song of the Week: Talking in Your Sleep

The last two songs of the week have been clues to where I was on my vacation. I started out in Miami and ended up in Atlanta.  In Miami, I stumbled upon a pretty good radio station: Magic 102.7.  It played a lot of hits from the '70's and '80's. Probably a little heavy on Fleetwood Mac for my tastes, but overall it was a nice mix.  I heard this week's song several times over my days in town.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Song of the Week: Cuban Overture

This week's song comes from the great American composer George Gershwin after a two week vacation on Havana in 1932.  I've always loved this tune and this version by Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra is my favorite.

Friday, June 26, 2015

MST3k Friday: Girls of MST3k V

"The's just wearing those glasses so she can pull them off dramatically."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Song of the Week: I Wanna Be

In June of 2000, BB King and Eric Clapton released a duet album called Riding with the King.  The album was fairly well received by critics and is a 2x Multi-Platinum seller. I find myself returning to it every now and then.

This week's song is "I Wanna Be", the seventh track and one of my favorites.

Friday, June 12, 2015

MST3K Friday: Godzilla vs Guiron

"..with no wars or traffic accidents."
"Why must we sing this stupid song?"
"We're from the padding department. Where's the plot hole?"

Monday, June 8, 2015

Song of the Week: Tarzan of Harlem

In 2009, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy released an album in tribute to Cab Calloway called "How Big Can you Get?".  Tarzan of Harlem is one of my favorite tracks from this CD.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Song of the Week: Fatback and Corn Liquor

I vividly remember where I was when I first heard this song by Louis Jordan.  I was outside waiting for a table at a steak house in Washington, D.C. with my brother.  We were hungry, hot, and a bit delirious, so the humor of this song struck us as extra funny.  When we were eventually seated, the peppercorn encrusted steak I had was one of the best I ever had. I don't remember the name of the steakhouse, but I never forgot this song.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Song of the Week: I Ain't Drunk

I don't care what the people are thinking, I ain't drunk, I'm just drinking.  Albert Collins was one musician who always placed a high value on fun. This is without a doubt my favorite song of his.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

MST3K Friday: The Girls of MST3K 4

"Well, gotta get up early to start drinking."
"That's 40 pounds of butt in 30 pound butt capacity pants."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Song of the Week: Ring of Fire

I host a Chili Cook Off every year, and this year's was held recently.  Enough spicy food and you feel like there's a Ring of Fire in your belly (apologies to Johnny Cash).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Song of the Week: A Friend in Weed

A couple months ago, I mentioned the band 7Horse was the opening act for a Kenny Wayne Shepherd concert I attended. They played this song during their set, introducing it as being inspired by their travels through the town of Weed, California.  Though the lyrics prove that statement was made with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Friday, April 10, 2015

MST3K Friday: Fugitive Alien Song

Last week, I watched both Fugitive Alien and Star Force: Fugitive Alien II from MST3K.  It's the only two-part episode in the history of the series.  Here's a song from one of the host segments.  The music you are about to hear is from the actual movies. The lyrics, however, are pure MST3K.

"They tried to kill him with a forklift."

Monday, April 6, 2015

Song of the Week: Moonlight Becomes You

Bing Crosby is known mostly these days as a Christmas crooner.  But in his heyday, Crosby was the number one entertainer in the world. A multimedia star, from 1934 to 1954 Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses.  He had 396 chart singles, including 41 #1 hits.

This week's song comes from the third Hope/Crosby "Road" picture:  Road to Morocco.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Song of the Week: Because

Everyone praises The Beatles for their songwriting and musicianship, but another thing that makes them stand out is their use of harmony.  There are few things as beautiful as their a capella version of "Because".

Monday, March 23, 2015

Song of the Week: Filthy McNasty

Horace Silver was a jazz pianist who played in the style known as "hard bop".   This week's song, "Filthy McNasty", was first released on the album Doin' the Thing which was recorded live in 1961 at Village Gate in New York City.

Friday, March 20, 2015

MST3K Friday: The Girls of MST3k II

"Uh, Merry Christmas, I guess."
"That's real nice, ma'm, but you're still under arrest."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Phantom Lady, by Cornell Woolrich

The night was young, and so was he.

What would it be like to be accused of a murder you didn't commit and nobody believes you're innocent? That's the situation Scott Henderson finds himself in in Cornell Woorich's Phantom Lady.

Henderson has dinner reservations at a nice restaurant and theatre tickets for two, but nobody to share them with. He decides to go into a bar for a drink and ask the first woman he sees to spend the evening with him.  He finds a willing partner and they spend the evening together without sharing names or anything about themselves.  When Henderson returns to his apartment he finds the police there; his wife has been murdered.  Henderson takes the police to the bar, the restaurant, and the theatre, but everybody remembers Henderson being alone. Is there a vast conspiracy afoot? Or did Henderson murder his wife and imagine his companion?

Woolrich was a master at capturing dread, loneliness, and the most intense desperation.  He adds to this in Phantom Lady with a ticking clock: each chapter is titled "The XXXth Day Before the Execution". You know Henderson will be convicted of the murder and it's up to the only three people who believe him to prove his innocence. This makes the book a tight, propulsive read.  As with the other Woolrich I've read, the writing is good and the stories are gripping, but there are a few flaws.  If you can overlook them, his books are worth searching out.

Woolrich writes noir straight up, no chaser.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Song of the Week: Air (Dublinesque) by, Billy Joel

This week's song is from Billy Joel's 2001 album Fantasies & Delusions. Performed by Richard Joo, this song has many characteristics of a typical Irish dance.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Song of the Week: Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Another one from the 1998 Face 2 Face tour.  This time it's both musicians playing Elton's song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me".

Monday, March 2, 2015

Song of the Week: Take Me to the Pilot

Never let it be said that Elton isn't a fantastic piano player.  One of my favorite performances of his:  "Take Me to the Pilot" from the 1998 Face 2 Face tour with Billy Joel.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not Even Past by, Dave White

When Jackson Donne saw the eight-year-old picture of himself, he thought the email was the weirdest form of spam he'd ever gotten.

With that sentence, Dave White's New Brunswick based private eye returns to print.  Not Even Past is White's first book in 4 years and the first to feature Jackson Donne in nearly 7.  It doesn't seem that long as White seamlessly brings us back into Donne's life.  In my review of When One Man Dies, I said "White rips Donne’s heart clear out of his chest and stomps on it with a size 13 boot covered in dog crap.". After this book, Donne must wish it was only dog crap.

Three years have passed since we last saw Donne.  He's closed up his private investigator's shop, returned to school, and gotten engaged to a woman named Kate Ellison.  In fact, he's about to graduate and his wedding with Kate is only a couple months away when the mysterious email arrives.  Donne clicks the link and sees a video of his former fiancee Jeanne Baker, who supposedly died in a car crash six years ago, very much alive and in peril. Donne believes the video is real and the only person he can turn to to save Jeanne is his old nemesis Bill Martin.  What starts out as a search for his long-thought-dead former flame eventually pulls Donne into the corrupt world of New Jersey politics.

The book is divided into three sections, each taking its name from a recent local slogan.  "Jersey Comeback" was the tagline for Governor Chris Christie's economic program, while "Restore the Shore" and "Stronger Than The Storm" were rallying cries after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.  Each could also be applied to the trials Donne goes through in the sections.  The first and third blow through at a breakneck pace, while the middle section gives the characters a little time to breathe.

As always, White has a good grasp of place. Donne moves around New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, and several other locations, and each time the reader feels he or she is really there.  His characters feel like people you'd want to hang out with at a diner at 3am (or in some cases, avoid at 3am).

Toward the last couple chapters of the book, I had a feeling of where White would leave Donne at the end of it and started cursing him for making me have to wait to the next novel for more Donne.

The whole series is Highly Recommended.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Song of the Week: Soul Radio

It's been a while since I posted a Fastball song.  This is another from their 2009 album "Little White Lies". It's been stuck in my head a couple days.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Song of the Week: Anyone Who Knows What Love Is

"Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" by Irma Thomas has gotten some new life recently thanks to Black Mirror, the anthology show airing on England's Channel 4.  Inspired by shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and The Outer Limits, Black Mirror examines the less pleasant side of human nature and how it can be exacerbated by technology.

This week's song has been used in two episodes: primarily in the second episode "15 Million Merits" and it gets a reprise in "White Christmas" (which is one of my favorites). "15 Million Merits" is not just a good story, but a remarkable feat of film making. The first 10-15 minutes of the episode manage to convey all the rules of the world and how our characters interact with it with a lot of visuals, but only a handful of lines of dialogue.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Song of the Week: Orange Colored Sky

For Valentine's Day this week, here is the great Nat "King" Cole singing about what it's like to be suddenly struck by love.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

MST3k Friday: The Name Game

Hello, Goofus von Drakesnot.  Here's a collection of goofy names Joel/Mike, the bots, and the Mads have called each other.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Song of the Week: That's the Way

For the past week, I've been listening to the complete Led Zeppelin discography from beginning to end. After listening to Led Zeppelin III, I felt I had to share "That's the Way".  It's not the typical song you think of when you hear the words "Led Zeppelin", but it shows off their great musical abilities.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Song of the Week: Dirty Water

The final season of Justified premieres tomorrow night.  It's consistently been one of the best shows on TV during its six year run.  This week's song comes from one of last year's episodes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

God Save the Child, by Robert B. Parker

The second book in the series, God Save the Child has private eye Spenser looking for a missing teenager. Good, not great.  We know what happened to the kid, but some of the motivations are a bit muddled.  You definitely sympathize with Spenser's exasperation toward his clients.  If you were the kid, you'd probably run away yourself.

This is the book that introduces long time love interest Sarah Silverman.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Barbed-Wire Kiss by, Wallace Stroby

When Harry walked in the door, Bobby was sitting at the end of the bar, watching a redhead take off her clothes.

Harry Rane is an ex-cop living at the Jersey Shore.  His old buddy, Bobby, is in deep to a local crime boss to the tune of fifty large.  Bobby asks Harry to get him more time to repay the loan.  Harry helps out and gets more than he bargained for; especially when he finds out the boss's wife is an ex-flame he hasn't seen in over a decade.

The Barbed-Wire Kiss is the first novel of Wallace Stroby.  It had been on my to-read list for a while, but I didn't pick it up until I saw Stroby on an MWA panel in Chatham, NJ. Before becoming a novelist, Stroby was an editor at The Star-Ledger. His deep knowledge of New Jersey comes through.  He captures the feel of the real Shore; the desperation of an area of the state whose survival rests on a few summer months, not the glitzy partytimes of the eponymous MTV show.

There are many scenes whose sights and sounds (and smells) jump right off the page. You'll hear seagulls overhead and feel the sand between your toes, but this ain't no summer picnic. The Barbed-Wire Kiss is hard-boiled to its core, full of the kind of down-on-their-luck losers and sleazy schemers that these stories were made for.

I'm definitely going to check out some more of Wallace Stroby's books.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Song of the Week: What is Life

During my time off around Christmas, I finally got around to seeing the George Harrison documentary Living in the Material World. It was really well done; not a straight biography, but rather a series of remembrances from his friends and family. I recommend checking it out.