Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We'll Sing for the Sunshine

You have easily noticed that this blog has been very dormant for the sunnier months of this year, and not exactly jumping during the cold season either. So it was to my great and humbled surprise that despite my crumbling lack of inspiration sporadic updating, I was bestowed this blogging award by Dusty McGowan at Playground of Doom. Between this prize, and the hundreds (or at least tens) of you new readers I am enjoying today thanks to Patton Oswalt's generous retweeting of my THE PHYNX essay (putting him with Edgar Wright in the "Folks I Owe a Steak Dinner" Club), it's a good reminder of why coming back to this parcel of virtual estate is always vital.

As always, with great accolades comes great responsibilities, so here are the rules:

1.) Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
2.) Link to the person who nominated you.
3.) Answer 10 questions about yourself (use these or come up with your own).
4.) Nominate 10 bloggers to pass the award on to.  (This is as much about sharing as it is about receiving.)
5.) Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

1.) Favorite actor/actress who's not a household name yet?

One of the best performances I saw in 2011 by any actor, let alone one under the age of being allowed to rent a car, was Jacob Wysocki in TERRI, playing an overweight teenager who is surprisingly at ease with the manner in which he stands apart from others in his school, capable of both offering exceeding amounts of empathy and compassion while trying hard to downplay his own needs for the same kind of treatment. Just when you think you can peg his "type," he throws a curve. I've never forgotten that debut. He's also got a very funny Twitter feed, his comedy work outside of film is great (I loved his "BREAKING BAD Pizza Delivery Prank" video) - I'm looking forward to future instances of his versatility.

Actress-wise, there's a few to pick from, but I'll give the ink to Amanda Bauer. In 2011's wonderful THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER, amid a sea of intriguing first-time faces and overlapping stories, hers had the heaviest emotional and dramatic arc to carry, and stood out from the pack. Her one appearance on "MAD MEN" shows she's already capable of playing in the sandbox with established names.

2) Favorite animal

A study in contrast. I personally identify with dogs because of their loyalty and eagerness to play; I even grew my hair long because I always felt it made me look more like a large friendly pet, whereas the few times it was shaven, short, or pulled back, I would look like a menacing thug from a Leo Fong movie. That being said, I tend to prefer the company of cats; like to hold and pet them, hear their noises and mewlings. Realistically, I do a barely passable job of taking care of my own self, so I think I'm doing the animal kingdom a favor by not being entrusted with the life, feeding, and well-being of any domesticated creature.

3) Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink?

I try to drink as much unsweetened iced tea as possible. When that's not available, usually diet cola. But what I really love - Moxie!

4) Favorite music?

I'm pretty much an omnivore, but I would say that my two strongest faves are power pop and doo-wop. The latter for it's eloquent simplicity and honesty - three-to-five guys with amazing harmony with just perhaps a bass or piano to back them up. Strip away the Velveeta stereotyping of  '50's culture and listen to the purity of The Moonglows "Sincerely" or the cold schadenfreude of The Velvetones "Glory of Love", and you might get it. Or, just listen to Art LaBoe's nightly dedication show, and in that standard mix of slow jams and lite rock, you will almost always hear some East Side homegirls in their '20's eagerly asking for a song their parents weren't even alive for the first time, Rosie and the Originals' "Angel Baby." (Branching further into general '50's-'60's soul, I was once asked what possessions I would retrieve in a fire, and the first reply was my Atlantic Rhythm & Blues '47-'74 box set) As for the latter, solid hooks and catchy lyrics will always put me in a better place. Lonely nights are made bearable by Badfinger, sunny days are made sunnier by Electric Light Orchestra, and I never travel far without a little Big Star.

Besides, anybody who doesn't like Cheap Trick just plain doesn't like fun.

By the way, did you notice that album by Chris Price I keep advertising off to the side of this blog? It's there for a reason. Buy a copy and listen to it, you'll understand why.

5) Favorite TV show?

In his questionnaire (within which I received his blessing), Dusty already picked "THE TWILIGHT ZONE," and since I don't like to be too immediately repetitive, I'm going to go with "HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET." A crime drama in only the strictest of TV Guide genre listings, this was possibly the greatest ongoing drama of souls trying to achieve nobility and avoid being haunted that ever survived the grinding obstacles of network television and its limitations. No matter how many ways people tried to screw up the show - changing time slots, demanding "prettier" co-stars, doing cross-overs with the more simplistic "LAW & ORDER" - every week this show delivered unique characters with rich lives beyond the office. "THE WIRE" may have the better Dickensian element, "BREAKING BAD" the better narrative evolution, insert whatever cable series you like here with your reason why it's tops. But I promise you none of those shows could have gotten past development were it not for what took place on location in Baltimore for eight seasons in the '90's, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you like you're Montel Williams.

6) Favorite sport

Honestly, my vast knowledge of useless minutiae takes up all the room that would normally be occupied by sports and the statistics therein. I will say there is always that first spurt of the fall when I follow the progress of my high school, college, and hometown football teams before I get diverted by the Oscar bait. I also take a particular pride in being in the stands for the infamous "Four Corners/24-11" game between the UC Bearcats and UK Wildcats basketball teams, the game that cemented the future of the shot clock. Look, if you're throwing a Super Bowl party or going to a sports bar, what the hell, I'll come join you. I just wish you could demonstrate the same participatory fellowship when I try coaxing you to join me for the Mods & Rockers fest at the American Cinematheque.

Oh yeah, I do really enjoy pro wrestling. But Vince McMahon insists on calling it "sports entertainment," so I guess technically that doesn't count.

7) Movie most people love that I dislike

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS. I know I know, I sound like the kind of sourpuss that would hate Cheap Trick earlier in this piece, but this film is one of the most egregious examples of snark over substance I've ever suffered through. Rather than, you know, actually try and bring life to these beloved characters, the creative team showed their contempt for the whole franchise by shoving them into toothless commentary about corporate influences in pop music, demonstrating how better they were than to just do another cartoon adaptation, even trying to turn their lack of enthusiasm into a "meta" joke by having one character justify her inactive presence in the story because "I'm in the comic book." SEE??? WE COULDN'T THINK OF ANYTHING INTERESTING TO DO WITH A PIVOTAL ANTAGONIST FROM EVERY EPISODE OF THE SERIES, SO WE'LL JUST GET A LAUGH ABOUT HOW LAZY WE ARE!!! AREN'T WE SO BLOODY CLEVER??? IRONY!!! SATIRE!!!

8) Favorite short film


9) My passion (other than entertainment)

Preservation. Sure, that can be tied to my love of film, but it goes past that to other things, like classic buildings and architecture, letters, photographs, clothing styles, all totems of the past. I don't revel in ancient items as some form of Luddite rebellion - I love the advances of our new century - I simply feel that to truly appreciate all the wonder and potential of the world and our inventions within is to have that history within our easy grasp. As was written by Stephen Zaillian to be fictionally said by John Q. Adams in AMISTAD, "Who we are is who we were."

10) Favorite soundtrack from 2013

Tough call. I've just seen THE WORLD'S END, which has a terrific and smartly-arranged song score, as every Edgar Wright movie has featured, so I'll likely buy that CD very soon. Then there's the soundtrack to BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME, which has entirely different takes and mixes of songs I thought I knew inside out, so it's like finding old family photos you didn't know existed; however that's just part and parcel of any good documentary thus I feel it's too on the nose to choose. Lots of other movies featured songs I liked, but I've yet been madly driven by any of them to buy that album right away, so those don't quite count either.

Let me try a variation here. Earlier this year, the aforementioned Mr. Price, my frequent moviegoing companion, sifted through his massive and eclectic CD collection, found a number of duplicate albums, and gave them to me en masse. So I took a long journey through some really great music that I'd never had real opportunity to explore before. That then spurred me on to go on a spree of sorts - I've likely bought more CDs this year than I previously did in the last five. Most of it older stuff that I'd missed the first time, but some new material too. As such, I guess I'd have to say The Soundtrack of My Life is my favorite of this year. And that track listing would look a little like this:

Judee Sill - "The Kiss"
The Kinks - " Situation Vacant"
John Martyn - "I'd Rather Be the Devil"
Emitt Rhodes - "You're a Golden Child of God"
Linda Perhacs - "Paper Mountain Man"
Asia Argento - "Cheese and Eggs"
Sloan - "Money City Maniacs"
Lisa Mychols - "Don't Give Up On Us"
Secrets* - "Daddy's Girl"
Bleu - "To Hell With You"
Alex Chilton - "All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain"

And buying music means I'm spending time in record stores again, thus another exercise in preservation.

So this is where I pass this award along, hoping that you will visit these blogs if you have not already, and that perhaps the proprietors will also engage in the show and tell I've offered. Everything is voluntary.

My choices:

I've crowed before about the enormous intelligence of archivist/author/all-around asskicker Ariel Schudson, and her Sinamatic Salve-ation blog, and I'm going to keep crowing about her;

Next to my other former "BEAT THE GEEKS" dais companion Paul Goebel, nobody loves TV more than Amanda Reyes. And her Made For TV Mayhem blog will give you really unique thoughts about all those MOW's, mini-series, and Lifetime Movies for Women, that you didn't know you were missing;

And nobody loves horror with the wit and ferocity of Stacie Ponder, and Final Girl is a testament to why she's stays standing in this field for so long;

You'll find plenty of sites devoted to cult movies and strangeness, but you will not find those reviews so neatly sub-categorized and ingeniously dissected as you will by the delectable Yum Yum at the House of Self-Indulgence;

You will also be dumbfounded at the amazing oddities of exploitation film material - obscure newspaper ads, alternate campaigns, pressbooks, and the movies themselves - that Chris Poggiali manages to unearth in his Temple of Schlock;

And the simple mandate of Brandon L. Summers - reviewing films with less than 100 votes at the IMDb - makes his Film Obscurities irresistible to me;

Almost every entertainment website tries to lure you with lists, but none offer the deep focus and sprawling variety of voices as Brian Saur shepherds at Rupert Pupkin Speaks. Aside from my year and decade breakdowns, I've always saved my listical pursuits for his presentation, and he's always received them with pleasure;

One of the first blogs I began to regularly follow before I even started my own here was Steven Thompson's Booksteve's Library. Mostly an excellent resource for literary pursuits both written and graphic, he also shines a light on hard-to-see films, TV, and other cultural curiosities;

If you enjoyed my "random tangent" review of Tyler Perry's TEMPTATION from a few months back, I have to acknowledge a little bit of inspiration came from the terrific stream-of-consciousness essays by Thomas Duke at his wild Cinema Gonzo site;

And finally, picking up on odd patterns during film periods, musing of beloved studio logos, and remembering truly great motion picture poster art are among the reasons Ned Merrill's Obscure One Sheet is special to me;

There they are: read, follow, or get out of the way.


  1. NYPD Blue > Homicide. Easily.

  2. Holy crap, this is a late comment. Marc, thanks for accepting the award. My viewing of Homicide has been limited to ten minute increments. i'll give Gravity a good. And good to see your posts, even they're occasional.