LITERAL IS THE NEW SURREAL

HANDS I'VE SHAKEN (no particular order): Oscar Peterson, Eddie Albert, Andras Schiff, Stephen Bishop Kovacevich, Phyllis Diller, Marian McPartland, David Lindley, Rosanne Cash, Richard Thompson Zubin Mehta, Leonard Bernstein, Peter Guralnick, Greil Marcus, Vince Aletti, Joel Krosnick, Jan DeGaetani, Paul Katz, Robert Gottlieb, Dan Rather, Zubin Mehta, Joan Osborne... TOP TEN ROCK CONCERTS (fab dinner party game): 1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street BandRed Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver, June 20, 1978 [fresh out of high school, entranced by … [Read more...]

ELITISM FOR DUMMIES

Can classical music ever reclaim the populist influence of Leonard Bernstein? Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts (Kultur Video, 9 DVDs)The Joy of Music (Amadeus Press) Leonard Bernstein: An American Life (WFMT Radio Network, produced by Steve Rowlands for CultureWorks Ltd.) Leonard Bernstein's absence looms over classical music and its current dilemma: superstar conductors and dwindling receipts, "crossover" CDs and spiraling sales, and the ongoing burnout between academic composers and listeners. When Bernstein began his YOUNG … [Read more...]

CHAINSAW SYNTAX

Why are Slate's "Today's Papers" heads so consistently awful? Do they simply let Umansky have his head since he probably turns copy in around 5 am? Just this past week we've had: Bishop Taken (for some Muslim cleric story) Rice-a-Crony (for Rice's testimony) Goodnight, Johnny (for Johnny Carson's death) The Sunni Will Come Out Tomorrow (about Iraq electorate) Puts me in the mind of Lucifer at the gates of hell when he says "Put the punsters in with the mimes..." … [Read more...]

INAUGURATE THIS, FRATBOY

I've been tough on Nancy Franklin, so to be fair here's a lead that made me chortle: "America is having a torrid love affair with “Desperate Housewives,” and I feel so left out..." [Greg's archives RULE.] GOOFY GOOBERS -- NOT: "...It is not the first time that children's TV favorites have come under the critical spotlight of the U.S. Christian right. Tinky Winky, the purse-toting purple Teletubbie, was in 1999 declared a homosexual role model by Rev. Jerry Falwell." (NY Times, Jill Serjeant in Reuters) … [Read more...]

BIRD IS THE WORD

While waiting in the car yesterday, we came across "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen (actually a mashup of two songs by the Rivingtons. Adam (4) insisted on listening to it maybe 100 times in a row, laughing until he cried. The joy that bubbled out of him was delirious. None of the repetitions got boring, it was like an infinity compressed into a single now forever, over and over again. By the time Moses and SKL got back to the car, we shared our new treasure, and Kubrick's sniper scene from Full Metal Jacket was a forgotten context. From there … [Read more...]

JUNIOR’S ITCHY TRIGGER

Bow-tied neocon scuzzball Tucker Carlson, the guy Jon Stewart confronted on the sinking ship Crossfire? Turns out to be a major source for Sister Helen Prejean's death penalty piece (from NY Review of Books): ...In his autobiography, Bush claimed that the pending execution of Karla Faye Tucker "felt like a huge piece of concrete...crushing me." But in an unguarded moment in 1999 while traveling during the presidential campaign, Bush revealed his true feelings to the journalist Tucker Carlson. Bush mentioned Karla Faye Tucker, who had been … [Read more...]

THINGS THAT PASS FOR KNOWLEDGE

Vexing how persistent these misperceptions are, long after the battle was waged, won, and consumerized. Talking about the pre-Beatle years in the early 1960s, Bruce Bawer writes: "Those years were America’s liberal moment, and a pivotal point in American history." But his lengthy article in the Wilson Quarterly is full of misnomers, evasions, and crude conclusions: "Paar represented a distinct, even radical departure from mainstream 1950s entertainment, but he was not a man of “The Sixties.” It was on his show (not Ed Sullivan’s, as legend … [Read more...]

FUN WITH COMCAST CAPSULES

Would you take a $3.99 chance on this pay-per-view? "Evie, a wallflower in a dead-end job, is obsessed with a struggling musician. Through a fanatic event, Evie comes into focus and Casey capitalizes on the attention." -- listing for the film A Slipping-Down Life, starring Lili Taylor and Guy Pearce (from an Ann Tyler novel). … [Read more...]

MOVIE NATION: Book Review

from WBUR's Arts page: The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood, by David Thomson (Knopf) The title of David Thomson's new history of film employs a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE LAST TYCOON: "You can take Hollywood for granted..., or you can dismiss it with the contempt we reserve for what we don't understand. It can be understood too, but only dimly and in flashes. Not a half a dozen men have ever been able to keep the whole equation of pictures in their heads." Thomson wants us to hear Fitzgerald himself talking in that passage, and … [Read more...]

NIPPLE BROCHES REMEMBERED

From WBUR's Here and Now homepage: It was quite a year for pop culture and the pop culture wars. Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction launched a year long values debate that culminated in the presidential election. Gay marriage was in the headlines, but abysmal marriages were at the core of the wildly popular new television show "Desperate Housewives," a prime-time soap opera watched by almost as many viewers who tuned in to the year long trial of Scott Peterson convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and unborn child. The trial increased … [Read more...]