Monday, July 30, 2012

Song of the Week: She's Got the Rain

This week's song comes to us from Fastball's 2009 album Little White Lies.  I've featured the band before with "Fire Escape" and "Mono to Stereo", but I figured it was time for them again.  I listened to my Fastball CDs last week and was reminded how great an album Little White Lies is.

Here's the track "She's Got the Rain":

Friday, July 27, 2012

MSTK Friday: Monster A-Go Go

"Thank goodness my Allstate man was on the scene."
"Now there's a man outstanding in his field."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pronto by, Elmore Leonard

Miami bookmaker Harry Arno is living the good life.  He's got a great house, tons of money, a girlfriend half his age, and a plan to retire to a nice, quiet spot where no one can find him.  The Feds want Arno to slip on his boss, the overweight mobster Jimmy Cap.  When Arno refuses, they put out word that he's been skimming, so Cap puts a hit out on him.  Arno moves up his retirement schedule, gives his protective custody the slip, and hightails it to Italy.  Pretty soon he's got Jimmy Cap's button man, Tommy Bucks, and a certain Deputy U.S. Marshal on his tail.

I read Pronto because I'm a fan of Elmore Leonard and the F/X show Justified.  Wait...Justified?  Yes, the U.S. Marshal referenced above is our old pal Raylan Givens.  The pilot of the show uses the incident with Tommy Bucks, along with the short story "Fire in the Hole", as the reason Raylan is back in Harlan County, Kentucky.  I couldn't help but hear Timothy Oylphant's voice for the majority of Raylan's dialogue.

While most people would be drawn to this novel because of Raylan, the real protagonist is Harry Arno.  Harry's big problem is that his illusions keep getting burst and he doesn't know why.  He thought Jimmy Cap would dismiss the skimming rumors because he was a good earner for so many years.  He picked out a nice spot in Italy for his retirement, only to find it cold, damp, and lonely.  And (mild spoiler alert) he couldn't believe that his girlfriend would leave him for Raylan, who is closer to her own age.

As with all Leonard novels, Pronto is chocked-full of colorful characters and razor sharp dialogue.  He certainly loves to throw people in a room and watch them bounce off each other.

If you're a fan of Elmore Leonard or Justified, you should definitely pick this one up.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Song of the Week: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

How about a little Stevie Wonder for this week?  This is most likely my favorite song of his:

Friday, July 20, 2012

MST3K Friday: The Killer Shrews

The ship's captain, and our hero, is played by James Best, also known as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from Dukes of Hazzard.  Not only is a sequel to The Killer Shrews being filmed (why?), but it brings back Best and teams him with John Schneider - Bo Duke himself!

"Robinson Crusoe can't play Dixieland jazz..."
"How big do they get?"  "How big does the music make it sound?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Fought The Law...

Students of corporate law learn about the celebrated British case of Salomon v. Salomon & Co. (1897) in which a shoemaker successfully sued a corporation whose only shareholders were himself, his wife, and his children. Well, here is a fellow in Lodi, Calif., taking the principle one step further. Curtis Gokey, a Lodi city employee who drives municipal dump trucks, backed one into a private vehicle owned by . . . himself. It seemed reasonable to Mr. Gokey to sue the municipality for damage caused by Gokey (employee) to the property of Gokey (citizen). When the claim was denied, Mrs. Gokey raised the banner that had been dashed from the hands of her husband, and filed suit for an even larger amount, on the grounds that her name also appears on the insulted vehicle’s registration. A defendant who represents himself is traditionally said to have a fool for a client. What should we say about a plaintiff who sues over damages caused by himself? Only, perhaps, that the litigious vapors that permeate every aspect of modern American life have deprived him of his senses.

Posted on the old blog 3/31/2006.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Song of the Week: Negro y Azul

Last night was the season premiere of Breaking Bad's fifth season.  Great show that I recently got up to speed on.  Some of the early going is slow, but, it's all in service of building tension.  The writers and actors do fantastic work delivering not only high-stakes drama, but some wickedly funny black humor.  One of the best shows on TV these days.  I might have to write more about it one of these days.

This week's Song of the Week is the opening of Episode 7 of Season 2.  It pretty much recaps our story up to that point.  Enjoy Los Cuates De Sinaloa singing "Negro y Azul".

Friday, July 13, 2012

MST3K Friday: Giant Spider Invasion

I can't believe I haven't posted a clip from Giant Spider Invasion yet.  I thought I had, so I always skipped it when I came across a "best of" on YouTube.  This season 8 episode of MST3K features Alan Hale, Jr. - better known as The Skipper from Gilligan's Island.  We've got movie sign, little buddy.

"Disturbing the peace?"  "We can do that!"
"We can't hunt, we're not drunk enough yet."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hidden Treasures: Titus Welliver

Should I call this actor a Hidden Treasure?  Over the past 20 years Titus Welliver has appeared in nearly 100 movies and television shows, but I wonder how many people know his name.  His face, sure.  He's been in LOST, Sons of Anarchy, The Good Wife, NYPD Blue, and a lot of other high-profile television shows.  He also had a pivotal role in the movie Gone Baby Gone.  But perhaps he is most well known for his role as Silas Adams on Deadwood.

HBO's western, Deadwood, is the latest series I'm watching as part of my Great TV Catch-Up project.  Over the past couple years I caught up with a number of shows people have called "The Best TV Show ever", including The Shield, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.  Currently I'm in Deadwood with Battlestar Galactica probably on deck.

Welliver is known primarily as a dramatic actor, so it was a pleasant and fun surprise to come across a clip of him on the Deadwood DVDs doing impressions.  He is spot on and completely hilarious.  Here he is playing different A-List actors auditioning for the role of Al Swerengen. You've got Pacino, Christopher Walken, Robert Duvall, and Robert DeNiro.

Even better is this clip where Welliver does Al Pacino at different times in his career.  It's uncanny.  Most people do the current Al "Hoo-Hah" Pacino well, but who can do all three this well?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Song of the Week: Rocket Man

Three years ago this week was the last time I saw Billy Joel and Elton John in concert.  As always, they put on a heck of a show.  You can catch some glimpses of the trippy video behind him, and I think it may be the same one he used at Nationals Stadium.  Anyway, I think this version Elton did live at Madison Square Garden on his 60th birthday is good example of how fun he is live.

Friday, July 6, 2012

MST3K Friday: Alien From LA

This is one MST3K movie I haven't seen.  Judging by this short video, it's fairly obvious why Kathy Ireland is famous as a model and not as an actress.

"I left him by the taco stand, and now I can't find him."
"Suddenly it's the end of Highlander."

Since this montage is about half the length of the normal MST3K Fridays, here's one of the host segments from the episode.  Mike and the 'bots sing an ode to Kathy Ireland.  Consider this a DVD extra:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Savages by, Don Winslow

"F--- you."

The uncensored version of the above is the first sentence of Don Winslow's Savages.  Hell, it's the whole first chapter.  Winlsow, author of The Dawn Patrol and California Fire and Life, brings his trademark gonzo style to bear on the drug war.

Our heroes are a trio of stoners.  Chon is a former SEAL who saw action in I-Rock-and-Roll and Stanland.  He suffers from PTLOSD - that is Post-Traumatic Lack of Stress Disorder.  Ben, his super-genius best friend, has a head for business and botany.  How does he put his smarts to use?  By growing the finest weed you can possibly imagine, of course.  Rounding our our trio is their shared slacker girlfriend O (short for Ophelia).

Ben and Chonny's brand draws the attention of the Baja Cartel, who is looking to move up norte.  After being rebuffed on their takeover offer, they kidnap O and force Ben and Chon to work for them.  Talk about harshing your buzz.  Ben and Chon think this is very uncool and show the BC exactly how savage they can be.

The best word to describe this book is baditude.  Ben and Chon have it.  Winslow has it in spades.  Words spill onto the page in what sometimes looks like free verse poetry.  The short sentences and chapters propel you forward so fast that when you finally take a breath you realize you just blew through 60 pages without batting an eye.

It's no wonder Oliver Stone made a movie out of it.  (Coming to a theater near you on July 6th).

Savages is profane, violent, sexy, and, at times, uproariously funny.  I still think The Dawn Patrol is my favorite Winslow book, but, damn, is this a good one.

Highly Recommended.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Song of the Week: Driving the Last Spike

Another great tune from Genesis's We Can't Dance.  This one's been popping into my head a lot recently.