Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Redefining "Not Giving Even a Tiny Rat's Ass", Dept.

Star Jones: I had gastric-bypass surgery - omg:

"Star Jones: I had gastric-bypass surgery

Star Jones Reynolds says in a new interview that her dramatic weight-loss was due to gastric-bypass surgery, and that she dodged questions about it for years because she was 'scared of what people might think of me.'

"I used to look in the mirror and take pride in my figure, but that was when I was legitimately a full-figured woman," she says. "I'd gradually gone from full-figured to morbidly obese."

Reynolds opted for surgery after a friend expressed concern about her weight. It was a success, she says, though she found she was "still consumed with the same anger, shame and insecurity as before."

Her husband, banker Al Reynolds, encouraged her to begin psychological therapy in the summer of 2005. She learned, among other things, that she "couldn't control what others thought," she says. She began to heal by talking openly about her weight loss to strangers."


It's a shame that the same skilled team of doctors that performed the gastric-bypass surgery couldn't have taken advantage of Ms. Jones Reynolds' sedation to perform a full rectal craneotomy. In layman's terms, "pulled her head out of her ass." Yet, how brave of her to bare her soul to Glamour magazine just about the time her celebrity has cooled like a big shit pie on the windowsill.

Where to start?

How about the pride that Ms. Jones Reynolds used to take in her "legitimate full figure"? Understandable, of course. It takes character and dedication to work one's way painstakingly through that many buckets of the Colonel's extra-crispy finest. She earned those rolls and bulges, mister! And the line between "legitimately full-figured" and "sideshow material" is a thin and wavery one. Particularly when viewed through sunglass lenses smudged with Popeye's biscuit fat.

Surprisingly, the gastric bypass did not bring her the sort of immediate relief we as a people have come to associate with risky, last-ditch cosmetic surgeries. However, the fact that she still felt "consumed with the same anger, shame and insecurity as before" might be due to the tension she felt between the fact that she has no appreciable talent, charisma, or culture and the fact that she was earning boo-koo bucks in a position that ostensibly demanded talent, charisma, and culture.

A sobering thought indeed.

Gratefully, she has the love and support of a concerned spouse who, despite a Berlin Stonewall of rumors, is in no way gay. He said to her what so many of us Star-gazers have thought, "Girlfriend, you have got to go get yourself a shrink or sumthin', mm-hmm." And it is a tribute to the power of the psychiatric--dare I call it "art"? I dare--art that she learned that no matter how hard she furrows her tubby brow, she cannot control others' thoughts. How many times have we seen her on that brilliant forum for distaff discourse, The View, fingers to temples, concentrating so hard the sweat bullets were practically popping off her face, trying to get her co-hosts, through sheer mental manipulation, to admit she was the undisputed Queen of the Hive? But thank the Lord she learned a valuable, no, make that an invaluable, lesson: sweet, righteous healing can only come through burdening strangers with the minutiae of your crap life.

And so we leave Star Jones Reynolds, celebrity, seeker, child of God, to continue her therapeutic journey by inflicting the fascinating details of each twirl and swirl through life's eddies on us, her adoring public.

Heal on, Star. Heal on.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Do's Drop In, Dept.

Yeah, so your sobsister caught the puh-reamer of the second film version of Hairspray Friday. (And here I'm racking my widdel brain to see if I can conjure up another instance of a non-musical film made into a musical play and back on film as a musical. Okay. Phantom of the Opera. Phew.) I'd seen the Broadway production in March and had been favorably impressed. Lotsa energy, lotsa toe-tappers, lotsa teevee second-tierers plugging holes in, like, the fifth cast of the show. I was not enthusiastic about seeing this movie, however. Four words: John Travolta in drag.

Brief synopsis for those as ain't seen the movie/play/movie: In 1962 B'more, plus-size dancing fool Tracy Turnblad dreams of appearing as a featured dancer on American Bandstand clone, The Corny Collins Show. Her double-plus-size mama is opposed, her lovable doofus dad supports Tracy's dream. Tracy meets the school Negroes during a stint in detention and learns how to put a chocolate glide in her stride and fonky dip in her hip. She gets on the show by virtue of her black'n'white-cookie moves and threatens the vanilla reign of Amber Von Tussle who had, up till then, been a lock to three-peat for the title of Miss Teenage Hairspray. Tracy militates to have Corny's show integrate instead of only featuring "Negro Day" once a month. Conflict ensues, Tracy a fugitive, last-minute heroics, and catchy eleven o'clock number. Capeesh? Good.

Having now seen the film and observed the legally-mandated twenty-four-hour cooling-off period, I can say that I enjoyed the film quite a bit. It gallops along at a giddy clip until the 2/3 mark when it either pauses or sags depending on the generosity of one's view in back-to-back slow numbers ("(You're) Timeless To Me" and "I Know Where I've Been"). It's well-cast. A size-zero Michelle Pfeiffer is quite perfect and hilarious in a MILF-y reprise of her Catwoman charm as the conniving television station manager who will do anything to get her daughter crowned Miss Teenage Hairspray 1962. Christopher Walken momentarily dusts off his "Weapon of Choice" buck'n'wing as Tracy's dad, Wilbur. Amanda Bynes is fine as Tracy's sheltered-virgin-with-jungle-fever pal, Penny. Queen Latifah finally finds a role that stops me asking 'why is this woman getting work?!'. Nikki Blonsky shines as the newest sexy-cute gal in a line of zaftig bundles of show biz percolation who have inhabited this role. And the cameos are fine: John Waters, Jerry Stiller, Paul Dooley.

But the obstacle remains: John Travolta in drag. Two reasons. First, you just can't get around that it's Tony Manero gone terribly wrong under there. Where other actors have been content to let Edna Turnblad take them over, here Travolta is The Show. Despite the fact that Edna is actually a secondary role. It's like Angelina Jolie as Dolly Levi. The celebrity of the actor overpowers the anonymity required to sell the role. More importantly, Travolta's stated intent not to play Edna as a man playing a woman but simply as a woman rips half the guts out of the role. Divine was obviously a man, Harvey Feinstein was most obviously a man. The role is made to be played en travestie but not trompe l'oeil, yes? To play it "straight" is to miss the point. The tension arises from the juxtaposition of our knowledge that this is a man with the conceit that this is a woman. Being played by a man. Part, at least, of the humor arises from the dainty femme gestures made and attitudes struck by a big, burly man. Which is the second reason this doesn't work. Divine was fat. Fierstein is big. Travolta is not. And a fat suit and fat makeup don't move like human fat. Travolta actually looks encased in latex. Like Joan Rivers, the only thing that moves in a lifelike manner on his face are his eyes. Which leaves him looking like John Travolta drowning in a vat of Silly Putty.

Before seeing the film, I thought Travolta's performance would ruin it. Having seen the film, I can say that Hairspray is a triumph despite Travolta. He gives it a trouper's go, over-the-top accent and all. (Why he's the only one who even attempts a Maryland accent, I can't say. Although, truth be told, he ends up sounding like a Chesapeake Dialect Tape for Earnest Thespians.) And I totally get the producers' Travolta-in-a-musical=ka-chinnggg! reasoning. But it doesn't work for the betterment of the film. At all.

So, go see it. You'll enjoy it. The tunes are insanely hooky, for the most part. And the choreography is neat. And the throwaway jokes funny. And it survives the Travolta Effect. Which, if nothing else, proves the strength of the material and its filmic presentation.
Find the Pope in the Pizza, Dept.

The town of Ave Maria, Florida.
No different, one might think, from any of the multifarity of Jesus-branded cities, towns, and backwaters in the Mutant State.
But that's exactly where you would be grievously wrong, cousin.
For Ave Maria aims to be the nation's first town run on Roman Catholic precepts.

So, might one expect the decriminalization of wife-beating and boy-buggering? One might, rabbit, one might. It's apparently the braindead-child of Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. Which is just another reason not to order that shit. I mean, really. If you don't want to make the dough yourself, just go to your local good pizzeria and buy a pie pre-rolled, add your own toppings, and throw it in a 500-degree oven for eight minutes. If you have a pizza stone, all the better. And, trust me, it'll be goood. Anyhoo, this cassock-hugging shitwit said that the commercial leases in the town would enforce beliefs consistent with Catholicism and, as a consequence, the sale of porn and contraceptives would be prohibited. Presumably also the sale of most music written since 1900 and most books written since 1600. But on the upside, ol' Tom'd probably be cool with Jews practicing usury, so long as they wore pointy hats and stars of David to mark them as outcasts and moral lepers. At any rate, the ACLU got all up in Pizza Boy's grill and he backed off. Funnily enough, though, for someone so Catholic, he's sponsoring an enormous abortion of a church right in the center of town. This ginormous oratory will feature the World's Largest Crucifix. 65 feet tall. And Jesus' wounds'll squirt orange Slurpee® into the congregants' mouths. Ha ha! Just kidding! It'll actually retain the iron and musk flavors of real blood! Damn but they can do fancy stuff with food additives. So, yeah, mega-super-fucking-tacky. As one might expect from the man who brought America "Cheesy Bread" and the "MeatZZa".

So, yeah, if you feel the State is not being intrusive enough in your life, think about packin' up the truck and movin' to Ave Maria. Where CCTV ensures you restrict yourself to the missionary position and that only during your wife's fertile days. Oh, and mark your calendar for next month's Muslim Whack-a-Thon. A year's supply of Vatican Soda ("the pause that represses") to the first contestant to lay out five infidels!

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Rose Is a Sore Is Eros, Dept.

You know, people write to me sometimes and they ask questions. All sorts of questions. Personal questions. Probing questions. Personal, probing questions. One of the most popular goes something like this: 'Ey, sobsister! Whatfor you always gotta be callin' the president a 'cunthead'? Huh? Whatfor?!

When I receive these bits of poorly-spelled, badly-redacted correspondence, I usually chuckle, wipe my spectacles with a sizable handkerchief I keep in my left sleeve, and down another two fingers of Everclear. Ha ha! Just kidding! It's only one finger mixed with a little Red Bull.

Anyhoo, yes, the time has come to clear up this tragic-yet-humorous misunderstanding. As a result of kerning issues in most browsers, you may think that you're reading the word 'cunthead' in entries I've written about our beloved President. But that could not be farther from the truth. You see, what I've actually typed here in Sobsister Central is 'cún thead', a Gaelic phrase which means "honorable beyond description". So that when I say something like "Cunthead George is at it again", you know that I mean to pile nothing but accolades on our Chief Executive's sun-kissed shoulders.

Ain't language grand?
It's what separates us from the apes.
And Southerners.
Two Hours of Crap in a One-Hour Slot, Dept.

So, your sobsister's slumped in front of Mother Tube this evening after dinner. I idly wander over to Food Network despite the everpresent risk that I might run into Paula Deen and feel possessed to slap that cornpone accent right out of her mouth. And, hello, there's Emeril Lagasse on Emeril Live.

Here are a few thoughts on tonight's episode of Emeril Live:

1) Every time the camera panned the audience for the inevitable reverential reaction shots, I wondered if there was anyone left in suburban New Jersey. I swear to Christ every meathead goombah and bloated Scotch-Irish bimbo, "blonde" hair streaked like skid marks on tighty-whities, in the Garden State must be in the audience tonight. Oh and yes, I'm sure they'll be making those pork egg rolls from scratch, Emeril! Yes, they'll be breaking from their marinara and meat-plus-two to buy wonton wrappers, dark sesame oil, and hoisin and Sriracha chili sauces. But of course. I particularly liked the women who nod intently like they're sitting in the Emeril Lagasse mega-church. It's amazing that they find within the taut confines of their wretched poly-wear the restraint to keep from pumping their flat-palmed arms in the air, you know, all "raisin' the roof"-style

2) The "special musical guest" to play the show in and out of commercial breaks was the legendary, the fabled, the storied Van Zant!!! Umm...who? Well, none other than Donnie and Johnny Van Zant, brothers of the late Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd who apparently took the lion's share of the family's talent if the reheated Southern-boogie leftovers on display are any indication. The brothers, with food and beverage before them, sat at one of the front tables and watched as Emeril prepared the egg rolls. Old Emeril was probably pretty stoked to have these Dixie-rock survivors flogging their latest extruded product entertaining his audience. Especially since one of the bro's was chewing gum during the meal. Classy? You betchum, Red Ryder! And I bet Miami Steve Van Zandt has to keep reminding people, "My name has a 'd' in it, okay? A 'D'!!" Ha ha! I know I would!!

3) Fuck Pavlov. The best evidence of conditioned behavior are the yobbos whose ginormous asses test the tensile strength of the studio's seats. Should Emeril even hint at touching either garlic or alcohol during the course of preparing a dish, the audience reacts with a roar of giddy approval. Granted, Emeril used to milk the "couple'a dozen cloves of garlic" routine years ago. But he appears to have killed that bit. Not in the audience's collective mind, though. "OhmuhGAWD!! Sheilah, he said "gaaah-lic!! Just like onna TEE-vee!!" I'm sorry, let me amend my characterization in the second sentence to read "gormless yobbos".

4) Emeril looked tired. When the teleprompter or cue cards or cuneiform tablets failed to provide introductory info on his next recipe, a chocolate pecan pie that, once plated, looked like tarry diarrhea with undigested nut fragments, Emeril just stared at the camera like a doughboy in the trenches facing No-Man's Land.

5) I did, finally, run into Paula Deen. She and her fat husband and her two non-entity sons were in a commercial for, what else?, The Deen Family Vacation special!! Wow! Now I can go from not giving even one little shit about Paula Deen to showering her entire extended family with my indifference! Neat-o!! Oh, and a question: Is there a Southern equivalent to blackface? 'Cause li'l ol' Paula was hittin' them "y'all's" like Rocky Balboa at a side of beef. I expect to see her in a Minnie Pearl hat next. With her two non-entity sons a-playin' the washboard and jug behind her as she yodels "That's What I Like About The South".

6) Lest the Food Network leave any ethnic group unscathed by association with a repellent TV show host, it recently launched Simply Delicioso. Amazingly un-catchy, huh? From the ads, I think the host says "delicioso", like, a lot. She's a Colombian named Ingrid Hoffman--yeah, I know, so obviously Hispanic--with, of course, crap streaked blonde hair. La Ingrid is apparently a restaurateur/entrepreneur/TV celebrity/columnist who is not averse to flashing a little cleavage to make her point. ¡Caliente! But let's let Ingrid's bio describe her most recent show, Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman, "The show's light-hearted, interactive style draws in viewers for both Ingrid's talents as well as her vibrant personality. Regular appearances by three pound Salsita, Ingrid's charismatic dog adds (sic) to the lively environment." That, my friends, is a powerhouse lady. Even her fucking dog is charismatic. Top that, Rachael Ray! Ha! Double ha!

Oh, Food Network.
For a channel devoted to fine dining, why do you consistently serve your audience shit?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hooray for Hollywood!, Dept.

Right. So, your sobsister watched AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies, 10th Anniversary Edition on TV a while back but couldn't be arsed to write about it until now. Ha ha! Anyway, the Usual Suspects were featured. By that I mean, the habitués of everyone's Top Film list, not the excellent Kevin Spacey film. And, parenthetically, why the American Film Institute chose to call this exercise 100 Years...100 Movies rather than "100 Films" is unclear to me. Maybe AFI thought Murkins would be overawed by the word "film". Being grateful for small favors as I typically am, at least they didn't call it "100 Flickers". That said, the top ten very much followed the "Great Books" model: weighty, influential, beloved, historic, revered.
In order:
1) Citizen Kane
2) The Godfather
3) Casablanca
4) Raging Bull
5) Singin' In The Rain
6) Gone With The Wind
7) Lawrence Of Arabia
8) Schindler's List
9) Vertigo
10) The Wizard Of Oz

Hard to argue, right? Except maybe for the fact that I really, really don't get the veneration accorded Schindler's List as a masterpiece of the medium. I mean, yeah, tugging the forelock before the Holocaust lobby but still... It's a good movie, a movie with fine intentions, but number nine best film of the last 110 years? AFI's/Hollywood's/Western Civilization's l-u-v affair with Mr. Spielberg's oeuvre is very much front and center at this event.

Actually, let me give Mr. Spielberg his own paragraph. Eight of his films were nominated (although--thank you, Jesus--A.I. was not among them), of which five were included in the final 100. In contrast to Martin Scorsese's six nominations, three entries, Francis Ford Coppola's four nominations, three entries, and George Lucas' two nominations, two entries, neither of which featured Jar-Jar Binks. Despite the fact that Scorsese (Raging Bull) and Coppola (The Godfather) placed higher than Spielberg in the top ten, Spielberg is still considered the pre-eminent American director both by weight of numbers and prestige. If asked to name a movie director, the average schmoe on the street would almost invariably name Spielberg before, and possibly to the exclusion of, anyone else. But should the wretched E.T. (#24) even be on the same list as, not to mention "outrank", Taxi Driver (#52) and Apocalypse Now (#30)? Among each director's unselected nominees, could one even mention The Color Purple in the same breath as Mean Streets and The Conversation? (And, really, I'm quite surprised that the Oprah bloc wasn't strong enough to push Purple into at least the lower ranks. Did Dr. King die in vain?) There's a much longer piece to be written on the overvaluation of Stephen Spielberg's directorial efforts. This isn't it. But his decision to move from making fun, exciting movies (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark) to making treacly, 3-hanky crap (E.T., The Color Purple, Always) to Crafting Important Films On Sober Themes (Schindler's List, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, Munich) while trying to return to making movies that are supposed to be fun and exciting but, in fact, are neither (A.I., Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, War of the Worlds) has included me out of the Stephen Spielberg Sodality.

At any rate, as is invariably the case at the end of those ineluctable Memorial Day Top 100 Rock Songs Of All Time (which invariably disappoint by not including the great rock songs of the Hittite kingdom, the Merovingian dynasty, and the English Restoration), an unsurprising top ten. Citizen Kane universally regarded as the A-number-one top-of-the-list. Although me, I would've cast my ballot in the direction of 1984's criminally-overlooked Breaking It, in which the then-underage Traci Lords and three other nymphets of earlier vintage try desperately to lose their respective virginities. The scene in which "Jodie Brown" (Lords) practically forces her sex-education teacher (played by John Leslie) to pop her unwanted cherry is a particularly moving and gripping one. And if the moving and gripping is done in just the right sequence, result: happy ending! Ha ha! Bet you didn't see that one coming! Whoops! Another sex-related pun! Ha ha! Yeah. Words. They can make us laugh.

The searing, grating injustice here, however, is not the absence of Breaking It from the top ten or, rather, not only the absence of Breaking it from the top ten, but the inexplicable and shameful absence from the entire list of the cornerstone films of the most important genre in American film: musicals.

How can you say that, sobsister?, I almost hear you ask, Why there are two right there enshrined in the pantheon of the top ten! Yeah, yeah. Applesauce!, I tell you. Why? Here's why.

In the entire Top 100, there are only seven musical films (eight if you count Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. which I don't. on account of how it's renowned as the first feature-length cartoon rather than as an animated musical.):
Singin' in the Rain (#5)
The Wizard of Oz (#10)
The Sound of Music (#40)
West Side Story (#51)
Cabaret (#63)
Swing Time (#90)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (#98)
and 7:100 isn't even an accurate reflection of the ratio of gays to the population at large, so, right off the bat, something's fucked.

Now, let's consider them individually if for no other reason than my obsessive need to drive shit into the ground:
Singin' in the Rain: great musical, no doubt. the definitive Gene Kelly musical, likely. the best film musical about the early days of film, sure. but not the best high-concept, big-ticket MGM musical of the '50s. that would be The Band Wagon. and it pains your sobsister to see this classic overlooked and elbowed aside time and again in favor of SITR. I will gladly match Fred Astaire's performance in Band Wagon against Kelly's. I will easily pick Band Wagon's Dietz/Schwartz songbook over SITR's Freed/Brown tunes. I will utterly prefer Band Wagon's gorgeous romantic duet, "Dancing In The Dark", over SITR's "You Were Meant For Me". I will unfailingly opt for Jack Buchanan's Mephistophelean director over Donald O'Connor's affable second banana. don't get me wrong: I love Singin' in the Rain. it's just no Band Wagon.

The Wizard of Oz: again, great musical. and more subversive, more surreal, more violent, and more dark than most Childhood Classics. it only makes me wish someone other than the candy-floss confectioners under Uncle Walt's baton had crafted the definitive Alice in Wonderland musical. I mean, yeah, ultimately, its message is defeatist and reactionary: real life, in its Dust Bowl grayness, peril, and misery, is still better than Technicolor with strangers, so don't wish for more than you have. but Judy Garland was never better. and there's that whole sync-the-movie-with-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon thing. which I've never done. although I have synced the Wizard of Oz with Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites and that shit will blow your fucking mind. the Wicked Witch of the West appears and up comes "My Yiddishe Momme". wow.

The Sound of Music: unless you have several hours to burn, don't get me started on this piece of shit. an utterly-crap score by casting-couch pirate Richard Rodgers who, without Lorenz Hart, cranked out witless "classics" in quasi-rhapsodic mode. children crawling like vermin over Julie Andrews. and the one character who reacts realistically and reasonably to this goon squad of winsome moppets is made the frigid villainess. this saccharine enema doesn't even hold camp value for me.

West Side Story: it's Art, right? with the Shakespeare and the Lenny Bernstein and the balletic choreography. again, don't get me wrong. as a kid, I loved West Side Story. at least the uptempo, jazzy numbers, less so the syrupy stuff. as an adult, I still enjoy its score and love Rita Moreno's drag-queen Latina and Russ Tamblyn's hyperactive Riff. but I find Natalie Wood's Maria too annoying, from her what-country-are-you-from-exactly? accent to her obvious lip-sync over Marni Nixon's arias. and it always bugged me that they bowdlerized lyrics and dialogue in the translation from stage to screen. I suppose I should be grateful that they didn't drag in June Allyson to play Maria.

Cabaret: now you're talking top ten, a genuine film musical classic built to go toe-to-toe with the Raging Bulls of the world. except it's at number 63. because it's a little, ummm, dirty for the masses. all that polymorphous perversity, don'tcha know.

Swing Time: yes, of course. Astaire-Rogers. of course. but why at number 90, for fuck's sake?! and why not Top Hat or Gay Divorcee too? these are the signature films of the Art Deco era. these are the signature films of musical romance. (what, you were gonna say "Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy"?) these feature not only some of the best dancing and best music of the 20th century but also some of the best second bananas in comedy: Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Erik Rhodes, Helen Broderick. what the fuck, people? one movie at number 90?!? Jesus.

Yankee Doodle Dandy: hmmm...let's see...not one of the best musicals ever...not Jimmy Cagney's best performance (although he is shamefully unrecognized anywhere else on this list)...not even Jimmy Cagney's best performance in a musical. no, that would be his performance in Footlight Parade, a snappy, gritty, funny, crazy backstage musical choreographed by Busby Berkeley who...oh, that's right...is represented nowhere-at-fucking-all on this list. more on that in a sec but for now, let me just note: Yankee Doodle Dandy has no place on the Top 100, period.

Busby Berkeley. Universally recognized as a film visionary. 42nd Street revived the musical as an artistically- and financially-viable medium after the first studio hog-stampede to print money on The Jazz Singer's back by cranking out dozens of talkee-singee-dancee quickies saturated the market and alienated viewers completely. 42nd Street and its kin at Warner Bros. (Gold Diggers of 1933, Gold Diggers of 1935, Dames, Footlight Parade, not to mention the less-well-known Berkeley musicals) feature the most imaginative direction of musical numbers in the history of the medium. Heck, let's drop the qualifier: these films feature some of the most imaginative staging and direction of film you'll see. Berkeley was a surrealist, a realist, a magic realist. The scripts of the cited films themselves already crackle and pop with classic wise-guy/tough-broad banter and badinage, they steep in the funk of cheap perfume and backstage sweat and stubbed-out smokes that Warner Bros. brought to its films in the '30s. And then Berkeley comes along and takes the musical numbers into cocaine clarity and opium dreaminess and cocktail lust. Women turn into skylines, horny midgets dress as little boys, the camera travels through a tunnel of women's crotches and neon violins form a single giant violin, a Broadway Baby falls out a window and an army of homeless veterans tramps across an impossibly-large stage. How can this body of work be utterly ignored or, rather, how can the supposedly-informed voters at AFI be so clueless regarding one of the richest veins in American film history? Gratefully, Warner Bros. released the first tranche of its Berkeley-related musicals in a DVD box set last year and the next is due in 2008. Warner Bros. also released the complete Astaire-Rogers recently. All these films in beautiful b'n'w transfers. Hopefully, this will serve to introduce young and old viewers to some of the best films in history. Compared to which, The Sound of Music is a mouthful of Velveeta next to perfectly-aged Vacherin and Livarot.

So, yeah, AFI.
Maybe next time we can discuss why there are so few comedies on the list, only two of which were made after 1961.
Secret sobsister hint: most film comedies are meretricious, lowest-common-denominator shit.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

'Tis Nigh, 'Tis Nigh, the Fourth of July, Dept.

Well, kids, it's the Glorious Fourth! And you know what that means!
It's time for the fantabulous celebration of our nation's independence from those tyrannical limey bastards through a presentation of the absolute best performers money can rent! I'm speaking, of course, of A Capitol Fourth 2007, the annual concert on the National Mall that gives us all an opportunity to hear the songs of George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin performed by a new generation of artists who can only approach this material ironically, one imagines, given its utter disconnect with the realities of 21st-century American life.

And whom do we have this year to draw this immersion bath of fun? Why, it's Tony Danza! A veritable Swiss Army Knife of entertainment! He sings! He dances! He tells jokes! All of them in a way that leaves audiences across the nation saying, "Well, at least he's trying..."

To whom else can we look forward? The second runner-up from American Idol last year! Whoo-hoo! That ain't hay, brother! And for the middle-aged fanboy wankers in the audience, the cheerleader girl from Heroes! She sings and has perky tits! And there's a gospel singer too! Because our nation could not have been founded without Jesus' direct intervention! Or the Black people! And 75-year-old Little Richard'll be there! To represent the "Rock-and-Roll" the kids today seem to like so much! And some country guy I've never heard of! And Broadway star Bebe Neuwirth! Just to show the gay people that America loves them too, albeit secondarily!

Oh, 'twill be a grand occasion! Capped, of course, by a "rousing rendition"--which is what the White House advocates for many of those darn "Islamists"--of the 1812 Overture--the one piece of classical music real men can listen to without being turned into flaming fruitcakes--"complete with live cannon fire provided by the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery", because leave us not forget, we wouldn't be jack-shit on this ball o'mud without Our Boys In Uniform and the multi-trillion-dollar defense contracting juggernaut that stands proudly behind them!

So, skewer a grill-striped frank, pour yourself some beans, and settle back for a solid several hours of the kind of top-notch entertainment an undemanding, easily-amused, middle-brow wedge of the American demographic pie loves so well!

Happy Fourth of July everybody!!